By Dan Wiener
Mutual funds information is released every day, and on October 6, Vanguard launched yet another offensive in the continuing battle over operating expenses and fund minimums, significantly reducing the entry price for a majority of its funds' lower-cost Admiral share class.
By Jamie Dlugosch
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been successful for us as of late, but it appears that a pause may be around the corner.
One of the biggest mistakes investors can make is to project their own personal situation to the market or stocks in general. If times are tough the assumption is that times are tough everywhere and stocks will likely falter. All sorts of emotions including envy and jealousy can come out of the woodwork when things aren't going well personally.
When you think about the root cause of the financial debacle of the last years, one word jumps out: mortgages. Depending who you listen too, there were too many loans, too little collateral, overaggressive lending all playing a part.
However, with the economy now improving, the U.S. housing markets are beginning to gain a firmer footing. Those companies offering protection to the participants in this market, and that had gotten hammered over the last few years, are now in a position to rise from their lows.
One such firm is The PMI Group (PMI).
By Sam Collins
Last week's 1,000-point intraday sell-off and 6% fall in three sessions was followed Monday morning by a 300-plus point rally in the Dow on news of a European bailout plan. The past few days have shown us just how sensitive this market is to the news, especially concerning the ongoing European financial saga.
It's time to be very cautious, to prune laggards from your portfolios, raise cash and hold only quality stocks that will benefit most from the economic recovery. To help you with that, I've dissected the technical analysis on some hot stocks set for big moves right now -- and at the top of that list is EMC Corp. (EMC). Here's the chart that will prove to you why:
People who have the entrepreneurial spirit are familiar with the unique adrenaline rush that comes from the live-or-die risk of starting a business. For many, small business is a way of life that represents long hours and near-obsessive passion. With all the pressure and time constraints riding on a small business, what are the five best software applications that can greatly help these start-ups or modest operations? There are definitely some critical software choices that make a small business more efficient and more effective. And better yet, three of them are free.
The Department of Commerce is one of many cabinet-level departments under the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government. The history of the Department of Commerce reflects many of the social changes and technological innovations that occurred throughout the decades of its existence.
According to the Department of Commerce website, its mission is "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce" of the United States.
So exactly what is the FOMC? The acronym stands for the Federal Open Market Committee, created in 1913 as part of the Federal Reserve Act, which formed the Federal Reserve System. But what is the committee itself, along with its purpose, and what does it do?
Defining the FOMC
The FOMC is the executive personnel arm of the Federal Reserve System, which in turn is the American government's body of finance. All the operating money of the United States is ultimately affected by the policies and procedures of the Federal Reserve, or simply the Fed. Since the U.S. utilizes a capitalist economy, rather than socialism or some other, it is much more open to private enterprise and thus more at the whim and weakness of popular consumers en masse.
"A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job," according to About.com. This definition may be an example of economist black humor, but it does contain a seed of truth.
The conventional definition of a recession, however, is where the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declines for two or more consecutive quarters. This is a fairly crude measure, so some economists like to factor in additional measures such as unemployment, industrial output and retail sales. The key point, however, is that a quarter-on-quarter deterioration in these measures will result in a recession being called out.
We're doing a rather last-minute interview here for publication Thursday morning (the 28th). What is on your mind to talk about?
Well, with the Democratic National Convention underway and therefore political season in full swing, lots of claims and counter claims will be made about taxes. Amid all the spin, careful analysis often gets lost. The Tax Policy Center (TPC), a non-partisan group, sat down with the top economic advisors for both campaigns and attempted to sort out just what the implications are from the proposals of each side would be.
And what is the verdict?
Well first of all, I strongly urge all readers who care about the long-term fiscal health of the U.S. Government to read the report.
But to my mind, given the massive size of the deficit this year and projected for next year, both McCain and Obama are being too "generous." Still, the charge of "tax and spend" is absurd if applied to either candidate, while the charge of "borrow and spend" is valid for both of them.
By Michael Vodicka, Zack's Investment Research.
In spite of the recent selloff in the energy sector, most of these stocks are still trading with big gains on the year. This stands in sharp contrast to stocks from the financial sector, which have suffered steep losses as big banks have been forced to liquidate assets and raise capital to support their balance sheets.
Because these two groups of stocks have functioned as polar opposites during this stretch, it has provoked many conversations about which is currently the more attractive investment destination; high-flying energy stocks or beaten down financial stocks.
Its All About Earnings
When you take a look at the earnings picture, this argument becomes very one-sided.
Crude prices have recently dipped lower, but they are still very high when compared to historical norms, and this will translate into big earnings for energy companies. We can see this dynamic expressed through analyst estimates.
Encore Acquisition Co. (NYSE: EAC) shares are still trading up sharply on the year in spite of the stocks recent sell off, but estimates have risen in tandem with the stock price, with the current-year estimate advancing to $5.07 per share per share from $3.63 per share 90 days ago. This kind of earnings power provides plenty of fundamental strength for more share appreciation.
Q. Eoin, I've read that China's annual consumption of copper has declined from a 28.66% growth rate to 2.4%. What does that mean for continued growth in China and also for the global copper market?
A. China and indeed much of Asia and the Middle East are in a generational-long period where they have to build infrastructure from the ground up. The push for educating, housing, transporting and employing large young populations requires massive investment, fueling demand for commodities across the boards.
The supply side was completely taken unawares by this demand following the 20-year crushing bear market that cut exploration budgets to the bone. That is now changing, as major mining groups compete for the best resources, particularly in politically stable parts of the world.
China continues to lead the world in terms of GDP growth, although it has recently manufactured a slowdown to combat rising inflation, generally positive for the economy.
United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X) has seen 8 out of 10 covering analysts boost full-year earnings estimates since we featured this Growth and Income pick back in mid-July. Forecasts of $20.50 per share are above last month's $16.00. The most accurate projection is more bullish at $21.46 per share.
Robust Growth with Record Numbers
The company recently announced second-quarter results and upped its dividend. Net income of $668 million soared past the previous year's $302 million. During the past 5 consecutive quarters, earnings per share were on average about 9% ahead of analyst expectations, with the most recent results coming in at an impressive 49.5% above expectations.
Commenting on results, U. S. Steel Chairman and CEO John P. Surma said, "We recorded the highest quarterly sales and net income in U. S. Steel's history during the second quarter as all three reportable segments posted record results, reflecting strong operating performance and favorable global pricing dynamics."
Higher IncomeU.S. Steel declared a dividend of 30 cents per share, which is an increase of 5 cents per share. The company noted that the dividend is payable September 10, 2008, to stockholders of record at the close of business August 13, 2008. Read our July 17 analysis.
Q. Carlton, in your last newsletter, you commented on the low valuations of several global markets, including Ireland, Singapore, UK, and Sweden, among others. Have you since added any ETFs from these regions to your portfolios?
A. Yes, I have added iShares MSCI South Africa Index (NYSEArca: EZA), iShares MSCI Singapore Index (NYSEArca: EWS), and the iShares MSCI United Kingdom (NYSEArca: EWU). South Africa is in part a currency and commodity play. The United Kingdom is very much predicated on global financial recovery, and Singapore will likely be a core holding.
Q. Each of these regions seems to have its own stress points right now. Do you think that South Africa is particularly vulnerable to a global slowdown? Hasn't Singapore been hit hard by the bear market in China? And isn't the UK just moving into a housing decline that may rival that of the US?
A. South Africa, China and the UK are all trading at attractive valuations. They all have challenges. The South Africa Rand has been a strong currency and will come back with higher gold prices, the UK is already moving through the housing issue and its financial-oriented market has already been hammered. Lastly, Singapore is a very high-quality China play.
By Ken Nagy, CFA, Zacks Investment Research.
June quarter revenue for Actel Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTL) fell short of consensus expectations, as the company was short of Flash product. However, the EPS was in-line. Although Flash product growth was lower than expected, the product line is expected to remain strong for the next few years. Actel continues to enjoy a high margin in select markets, although the quicker ramp of new products is likely to exert some negative pressure.
The exposure to the consumer market is also increasing, so working capital requirements are likely to increase. The stock looks attractive at these price levels, but we are reiterating our Hold rating in view of the broader market uncertainties.
Actel's expertise, the limited competition, and its embedded customer base have enabled the firm to emerge as the leading supplier of HiRel FPGAs to the military, avionics and space industries. Actel's Flash products are beginning to take off. The company has introduced seven product families to date, with varying success. Flash products generated 24% of revenue in Q2 of 2008. The management also expects significantly lower cost of production within the 1Q09-2Q09 timeframe, as the company proceeds on the learning curve and also ships higher volumes.
By Alex Kolb, analyst, Zacks Investment Research
Shares of QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) are trading about 15% higher than earlier this month, when the company was previously featured. Also, as was the case when previously featured, QCOM continues to trade close to a 52-week high. Wall Street forecasts are also higher now. Current earnings estimates of $1.95 per share for the year ending September 2008 are last month's $1.91.
The company posted a strong fiscal third quarter, noting that it delivered record revenues that were up by 19 % year-over-year. QCOM's third-quarter (GAAP) net income also increased year-over-year.
The Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company continues to offer a ROE of 20%, squashing the industry average of 2%. Its yield of 1.2% stands out as the company operates in an industry that virtually pays no dividend. QCOM's earnings per share are expected to grow by 19% over the next 3 – 5 years, versus the industry average of 17%. Read our Jul 10, 2008 analysis.