Two questions on investors' minds are: Should I buy Apple (AAPL), and where is the stock headed? Leading banks and financial advisory firms hire analysts, whose job it is to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of a given company -- and from that data make a recommendation and a projected stock price.
At Morgan Stanley that analyst is Katy Huberty. In a Fortune article she describes two possible scenarios for Apple. One is her best case. The other is her bearish take.
Continue reading The Case for Apple to Reach $540
When the CEO of Walmart says that inflation is coming, we best be on the lookout. As head of America's largest retailer, Bill Simon is in a unique place to see inflation traveling all the way through the supply chain.
Walmart's (WMT) advanced computer systems are the some of the largest and most advanced computer systems in the world -- on par with computers the U.S. military uses. Every product and purchase is tracked to get stores resupplied as quickly as possible, usually just in time. As a retailer, Walmart is going to be keeping track of costs and profit margins very closely. Managers all across the company are carefully watching the reports.
Continue reading Is Inflation Here? Walmart Warns of Rising Prices
General Mills (GIS) is buying a 50% stake in Yoplait from PAI Partners for roughly $1.1 billion, Reuters reported Thursday, citing sources close to the deal.
The deal is a nice fit for both companies. Yoplait is second to Danone (DANOY) in the yogurt market. General Mills has the industry presence to promote the Yoplait brand, something that would benefit PAI.
For General Mills, Yoplait would add an another revenue stream to an already diversified conglomerate. Some of General Mills' products include cereals, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Green Giant vegetables and Progresso soup. The company has already been distributing Yoplait for 30 years, so the distribution network is already in place.
Continue reading General Mills Likes Yoplait So Much It's Buying 50% of the Company
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets again this week to review economic conditions and set monetary policy. On whether the Fed should end quantitative easing or extend it, Atlanta Fed chairman Dennis Lockhart recently said that the Fed should remain flexible given the rising energy prices, which could be a sign of coming inflation. Either at this meeting or the next, the Fed could signal that interest rates will rise as a hedge against inflation.
Inflation will also be the focus when the Department of Labor releases the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) this week. Back in January the core PPI (which excludes energy and food costs) had its biggest jump in two years, and the core CPI had its largest uptick in more than year, the second month in a row in which consumer prices jumped.
Continue reading Week in Preview: Inflation, the FOMC and Nike Earnings
We have yet another food product to add to the inflation list. This time it's cattle. Cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed at an all-time high of $1.1752 per pound, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Beef is a in a special category. Unlike grains, which are harvested yearly, it takes about three years to raise cattle and bring them to market. High grain prices and high exports have shrunk the size of herds. They are at their lowest levels since the 1950s. With prices so high, some cattle ranchers choose to slaughter their cattle rather than let them mature to full term. These young cattle are called feeder cattle.
Continue reading Cattle Futures Are at a Record High
Hartford Financial (HIG) is one of the largest providers of investment products, individual life, group life and group disability insurance products, as well as property and casualty insurance products in the U.S. In addition to the U.S., the company has operations in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Ireland. Its main competitors include large insurers like MetLife (MET), Prudential (PRU) and AIG (AIG).
We have a price estimate of $23.68 on Hartford Financial's stock, which is about 20% below the current market price. We estimate that property and casualty insurance in the U.S. constitutes about 37% of the company's stock value.
Continue reading Higher Inflation Could Deflate Hartford's Outlook
Gold has been lingering around the $1,335 per ounce for the past several weeks. This prompted many hedge funds to sell their holdings.
Then came the turmoil in the Mideast. First Tunisia and Egypt, now Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and others. That was the catalyst that gold needed. It shot to a new record high of $1,432.10 in the spot market. April gold futures settled at $1,431.20 per ounce, as reported in Reuters.
Continue reading Gold Soars to a Record High on Mideast Turmoil
After two years of steadily rising commodity prices, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke finally admits to it. Quoted in Bloomberg/Businessweek
in his testimony before Congress Bernanke said: "Sustained rises in the price of oil or other commodities would represent a threat both to economic growth and to overall price stability, particularly if they were to cause inflation expectations to become less well anchored."
"We will continue to monitor these developments closely and are prepared to respond as necessary to best support the ongoing recovery in a context of price stability."
Continue reading Bernanke Finally Admits to Inflation Gain from Commodity Prices
Venezuela is broken and Libya is on fire. The Chavez government is incompetent and the Gaddafi regime may be just days away from collapse
as chaos fills the streets. Rumors of Gaddafi escaping to Venezuela are unfounded. However, if two men ever deserved each other, these two fit the bill.
Chavez, in all his economic wisdom has brought on over 28% inflation and counting in addition to the Currency Market Takeover Spurs Lines for Dollars
. All this wonderful news led me to search for Venezuelan ADR's (American Depository Receipts) in case I wanted to follow the market there, and make a contrarian play, or if I really wanted to get wild short something.
Continue reading Serious Money: Chavez & Gaddafi, Real Blues Brothers
"Gold rises with inflation and in times of crisis, like we have today; and, as a result, many countries are buying gold," says Mary Anne and Pamela Aden.
The long-standing resource sector expert and co-editors of The Aden Forecast explain, "They know it's the ultimate currency and gold is again taking its place in the global monetary system, as it has for thousands of years.
"The actions of the world's central banks tell the story. At the very least, this is going to keep upward pressure on gold in the years ahead.
Continue reading The Aden Sisters on Gold: 'Stay with the Mega-Trend'
Back in the late 1970s, the Hunt brothers from Texas tried to corner the silver market. That drove prices to $48 an ounce. Now, 31 years later, silver is shooting higher again. The March silver futures contract closed at $32.296 per ounce, up 72 cents.
Since gold is expensive, investors are turning to silver to hedge against inflation. Many fear that the Federal Reserve will not be able to control the spike in commodity prices. The Fed is buying $600 billion of treasuries and keeping interest rates near zero.
Continue reading Silver Near a 31-Year High
Every quarter, investors eagerly await the disclosures for the holdings of top-notch hedge fund managers. Which stocks are being dumped? What are the new purchases?
Just look at billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson. Over the past couple of years, he has been a big holder of gold stocks. And yes, in light of the terrible plunge in the precious metal in January, investors are wondering if Paulson is still a bull.
Continue reading Paulson Still a Big Bull on Gold
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