Saturday, May 31, 2014

AdviceIQ: Springtime financial cleanup

The weather is finally warm again, and here comes spring cleaning. Clean up your finances, too, before the hectic activity and recreation of summer.

Start with these pointers:

Discuss main financial goals with your spouse or significant other– and write them down. Whether saving for a downpayment on a house, paying off outstanding debt or creating a rainy day fund, everyone has a financial goal or two for the year. Writing down your goals helps you think through the details and outline a plan to meet those goals.

Important aspects of your financial life together include credit scores, future big outlays of cash and potential future income. Make sure, too, that you and your significant other are on the same page concerning these goals.

Track your money. On the left side of a piece of paper write down all your sources of income. Look at your tax forms, such as your W-2 wage statement or Internal Revenue Service form 1040, to accurately assess your income.

On the right side of the same paper, write all your financial obligations. Your paystub quickly tells you how much you shell out for health insurance, put toward your 401(k) retirement plan and set aside for taxes.

Don't forget to include the expense of your other insurance policies, mortgage, car payments, student-loan debt and your other financial obligations throughout the year.

Compare the two sides.

Plan for taxes, savings and life. When looking at your gross income, remember that approximately 30% comes right off the top for taxes (federal and state combined), 20% ideally needs to go toward such savings as an emergency fund and retirement assets and half goes to living expenses.

Your healthy financial plan – and future – hinges on this formula. Further, spending just 30% to 40% of your income during your working years on food, shelter, transportation, insurance, kid-related costs, entertainment and the like allows you to maintain your lifestyle in retirement.

Does your inflow exceed y! our outflow? If not, right the ship.

Insure what's important. Make sure you cover all your important financial assets with insurance, including your house, car and health. You also might want to investigate disability insurance and umbrella policies for further coverage. Disability furnishes you income if you can't work, and umbrella coverage protects you against lawsuits connected with your property.

Do you have enough life insurance? For many families, the most cost-effective life option islevel-term with a 10- to 30-year term. If your life insurance needs recently increased – due perhaps to more children or other change in your lifestyle – revisit your coverage amounts.

Many online calculators can help you determine your needed coverage. If you don't work with an insurance agent, it's fine to shop for term life policies online at such sites as matrixdirect, accuQuote and QuickQuote.

Remember to budget for fun. Include a budget for warm-weather fun, from a trip to a local theatre to a vacation to Florida. In researching my latest book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, I learned that happy retirees take nearly twice as many vacations a year as unhappy retirees. Consumer advocate Clark Howard offers great suggestions for traveling on a budget.

Winter's over. Take this moment to give your finances new life, too.

MORE: David John Marotta on tax brackets and capital gains

MORE: Sterling Raskie on the high price of waiting

MORE: Matthew Illian on the rise of mutual fund power

Wes Moss, CFP, is the chief investment strategist for Capital Investment Advisors and a partner at Wela Strategies, both in Atlanta, and is a member of the AdviceIQ Financial Advisors Network, which is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Subaru BRZ up $100, 'Blue' limited edition added

Subaru boosted the price of its BRZ sports car models $100 for 2015, bringing the base model, called Premium, to $26,490 including shipping. The more upscale Limited models also go up $100.

In addition, Subie said it will offer a special limited edition model of the car to start the 2015 model year.

All 2015 models will go on sale in July. The BRZ is a rear-drive sports car and is Subaru's only U.S. model without all-wheel drive.

Minor BRZ changes for 2015 include larger tailpipe tips, fake carbon-fiber dashboard trim, roof-mounted shark-fin-style radio antenna. The suspension is revised for 2015 to provide what Subaru says will be better handling. Engine's a carryover: 2-liter flat four-cylinder, co-developed with Toyota, rated 200 horsepower.

In fact, the entire car was co-developed with Toyota, which sells a similar vehicle as the Scion FR-S.

The special BRZ Series Blue model will be limited to 1,000 vehicles in the continental U.S. Of those 500 will be blue and 500 white.

The Series Blue adds some cosmetic and aerodynamic pieces, branded with Subaru's STI high-performance parts label, though the only go-fast improvement is more down-force at the front and slightly less wind resistance overall — unlikely to be noticed expect at higher speed.

The Blue Series also gets red disc brakes that can be seen through the wheel spokes and suggest the car's a stopper as well as a goer.

In the Blue Series model's interior, blue stitching accents the seats and the blue and black leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as the shift lever boot and leather-wrapped parking brake handle.

The blue motif carries to the center console kneepads and door trim, accented by an embroidered silver BRZ logo on the front seat backs. Carpeted floor mats pick up the BRZ logo and blue stitching, as well.

In addition to the base Premium model, which comes only with a six-speed manual transmission, here are new prices for the other 2015 BRZ models:

Limited, six-spe! ed manual, $28,490Limited, six-speed automatic, $25,590Series Blue, six-speed manual, $30,285

The prices include $795 shipping. In Alaska, it's $945, and, Subaru says, shipping might be different in Hawaii and eight northeast states.

Toyota is offering a limited-production version of the FR-S for 2015 called Release Series 1.0. It, too, is mainly a cosmetic job, and the parts are labeled TRD, for Toyota's high-performance and custom parts operation.

The 2015 Scion FR-S goes on sale in June, starting at $25,655 including shipping. That's up $400 from the $25,255 starting price of the 2014.

The 2015 has updates to the front and rear suspension that, Toyota says, improve handling and stability .

Friday, May 30, 2014

Global Diversification is the “Only Free Lunch that Really Exists”

Alan Moore, founder of Serenity Financial Consulting, LLP, says that if there’s anything risky about international investing, it’s not doing it as part of portfolio diversification.

An academic background and a master’s degree in financial planning taught him a lot about modern portfolio theory, among other things. “[MPT is] the first time anybody ever suggested that diversification is a good thing,” he said, and global diversification is not only part of that theory, not doing it doesn’t seem reasonable. In fact, it’s the “only free lunch that really exists.”

What does Moore mean by that? That “different asset classes and countries, across different industries and sectors, either will increase client return or decrease risk for the same amount of return.” It just doesn’t make sense, he says, not to do it, particularly when you consider how risky investing only in the U.S. can be. “Sequesters, the debt ceiling crisis—the U.S. market can really take a hit. I don’t want [to invest for clients] based solely on what the U.S. is doing,” he said.

Moore’s client portfolios are invested roughly 50/50: about half in the U.S. and about half elsewhere, with the bulk of the elsewhere going into developed markets but with emerging markets also making up part of the allocation. He relies on mutual funds to provide international diversification for client accounts, rather than buying individual equities or seeking out particular country weightings. That provides “exposure to about 20,000 different companies, which is about as diversified as I know how to get,” he said.

Moore looks for investment managers that “buy the market basket,” so that each client’s portfolio has about the same exposure to those 20,000 or so stocks across the globe and also has a “pretty low” expense ratio. He also said he regularly rebalances client portfolios, so that when one sector outperforms, its gains are harvested. That presents opportunities to lock in profits and buy undervalued sectors. “That ability to rebalance is huge, and having those international stocks increases our ability to do that,” he said.

Moore has been doing international investing since he started as a planner, even before he founded his firm, both for himself and for his clients. He believes that “markets are largely efficient and stock prices are set appropriately, and it’s impossible to beat the market,” so he uses passive investing, does not try to time the market and is happy to rely on those mutual fund managers to provide the diversification he seeks—though he does say that a bit more exposure to China would not come amiss because it represents such a large portion of the world’s wealth. Its markets being what they are, making access difficult, he says that sometimes clients are a bit underweighted in China.

That said, Moore said that his investment strategy is not about favoring any country. Instead, it’s “about having your rationale, having your plan and reasons for the plan, and sticking to it.” Financial planning is as much art as it is science, he says, with no single right way to do it, and “there’s no perfect percentage in anything. It comes down to a lot of personal opinion.”

As a result, “What I don’t want is to be guessing. Because that’s all it is. If I say Japan’s going to do really well because they’ve had 20 years of deflation, that’s a guess. It’s playing roulette with clients’ money, and that’s not a position I want to be in.” It’s taking more risk than needed, he says, and thinks that sometimes people do that because they “have to excuse their investment management fees,” he said.

While Moore said that the first question a new client asks is often “Aren’t international investments risky?” when he tells them about the 50/50 strategy, he said they’re fine with it once he’s explained that the U.S. only makes up roughly half of the world’s stock market wealth and that “by keeping more than 50% of investments in the U.S., we [would be] betting that the U.S. will outperform the rest of the world long term. While this is certainly possible, it is also possible that the rest of the world will outperform the U.S. I do not want to make a bet on which one will happen.”

People have been told for a long time that international investing is risky and that U.S. stocks are safer. “The good thing about the market downturn is that folks realized that U.S. stocks are risky too. You’re owning stocks of companies that may fail,” Moore said. Clients are also often surprised to learn that the U.S. does not dominate the financial scene the way it once did. The growth of emerging market economies, such as China, has meant that the rest of the world’s financial markets are more important than they used to be, he said.

In fact, the emerging markets—Central and South America and parts of Europe included—have done “phenomenally well,” although of course he hastens to add that they also carry more risk, he said. But it’s his job to educate clients about such things. He doesn’t work with clients who are so bound up in the minutiae of stocks that they lose sight of the bigger picture.

“Although they have input, they don’t say to me, ‘Ten percent of Europe is too much; we should be at eight.’” Instead, they trust Moore and his strategy, and seem to be enjoying that free lunch.


Stocks To Watch For September 17, 2013

Some of the stocks that may grab investor focus today are:

Wall Street expects FactSet Research Systems (NYSE: FDS) to report its Q4 earnings at $1.21 per share on revenue of $218.93 million. FactSet Research shares rose 0.49% to $112.80 in after-hours trading.

Pandora Media (NYSE: P) announced its plans to sell 14 million shares of common stock, including 4 million shares from current stockholders. Pandora shares tumbled 4.54% to $22.90 in the after-hours trading session.

Analysts expect Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE) to post its Q3 earnings at $0.34 per share on revenue of $1.01 billion. Adobe shares gained 0.80% to close at $48.14 yesterday.

Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) issued a weak third-quarter profit forecast. Werner shares dropped 2.09% to $23.90 in the after-hours trading session.

Outerwall (NASDAQ: OUTR) lowered its forecast for the third quarter and full year. Outerwall shares dipped 19.96% to $44.80 in after-hours trading.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Congressional probers contact GM switch engineer

WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators acknowledged on Thursday that they met with a suspended General Motors engineer linked to the recall of 2.6 million cars regarding a safety defect blamed for 13 deaths and 42 crashes.

Following a report Wednesday night in the New York Times, a spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee said staff investigators had met with Ray DeGiorgio, who was suspended by GM on April 10, as well as other company employees.

"Over the course of our investigation our staff has met with DeGiorgio and other current and former company officials," said committee spokeswoman Charlotte Baker. "We are continuing to conduct interviews." She declined to provide any other details.

Interviews such as those with DeGiorgio often come just in advance of congressional hearings, but Baker said there are no hearings on the GM recall currently scheduled. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing April 1 with GM CEO Mary Barra, who also testified on April 2 before a Senate Consumer Protection subcommittee.

It is possible both panels will have additional hearings in the weeks to come, with an internal GM report from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas on what happened expected to be completed soon.

DeGiorgio and another GM engineer, Gary Altman, were suspended with pay in April as the company's internal investigation continued. Congressional investigators want to know why it took until this February for GM to begin recalling affected Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars when there were warning signs of an ignition switch defect dating to 2001.

Because of the defect, a driver can inadvertently jostle the key out of "run" position, potentially cutting power to steering and brake assist, air bags and other systems. GM had maintained that it only learned of the problem late last year but two weeks ago was fined a record $35 million by federal regulators for not acting more quickly. Those regulators noted reports from suppliers as e! arly as 2009 indicating airbags could be disabled if the power to the car was inadvertently turned off.

DeGiorgio was a lead engineer on the switches. As was revealed in earlier hearings, he apparently signed off on a change to the ignition switch in 2006 that largely corrected the shutoff problem in early model vehicles. But the part number was never changed -- a move which could have led to a recall -- and GM did not notify federal regulators.

Last year, in a court case brought by the family of a Georgia woman who died, DeGiorgio said he didn't know about any changes which had been made to the part.

The New York Times said an unnamed House staff aide reported that during an interview on May 19 DeGiorgio, 61, seemed "genuinely upset" about the people who died and at his own failure to connect the ignition switch issue with air bag nondeployment earlier.

"He came across as if he was just overburdened and just missed it," the Times quoted the aide as saying. DeGiorgio, who has not spoken publicly about the recall, remains suspended with pay.

He apparently told investigators that he had forgotten about the upgrade ordered for the switch in 2006 when he was deposed by lawyer Lance Cooper last year.

4 Good Dividend Growth Stocks with Little Debt and Top Yields

Dividend growth is wonderful, but it does not mean a good return in the end. Out there are also stocks that hiked dividends over 10 years or more, but they delivered only a 3 percent annual return of which 2 percent is explainable to cash dividend payments.

A good dividend growth stock is a pick that delivers adequate returns far above the expected inflation rate. Nobody knows which stock can give you this, but one critical factor is the amount of debt. A low leveraged stock has more possibilities to grow in an easy way.

Today I would like to share some great dividend stocks with low debt ratios. Great dividend stocks are those stocks that have delivered good growth and high returns combined in the past.

I used a restriction of a debt to equity ratio of 0.5 percent. Eleven stocks fulfilled my criteria of which six are recommended to buy.

Here are the best yielding results:

Cincinnati Financial (CINF) has a market capitalization of $7.58 billion. The company employs 4,057 people, generates revenue of $4.111 billion and has a net income of $421.00 million. Cincinnati Financial's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $657.00 million. The EBITDA margin is 15.98 percent (the operating margin is 13.77 percent and the net profit margin 10.24 percent).

Financial Analysis: The total debt represents 5.63 percent of Cincinnati Financial's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 17.07 percent. Due to the financial situation, a return on equity of 8.03 percent was realized by Cincinnati Financial. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $3.45. Last fiscal year, Cincinnati Financial paid $1.62 in the form of dividends to shareholders.

Market Valuation: Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 13.44, the P/S ratio is 1.85 and the P/B ratio is finally 1.39. The dividend yield amounts to 3.61 percent and the beta ratio has a value of 0.70.

Chevron (CVX) ! has a market capitalization of $239.36 billion. The company employs 62,000 people, generates revenue of $241.909 billion and has a net income of $26.336 billion. Chevron's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $59.975 billion. The EBITDA margin is 24.79 percent (the operating margin is 19.15 percent and the net profit margin 10.89 percent).

Financial Analysis: The total debt represents 5.23 percent of Chevron's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 8.93 percent. Due to the financial situation, a return on equity of 20.30 percent was realized by Chevron. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $12.34. Last fiscal year, Chevron paid $3.51 in the form of dividends to shareholders.

Market Valuation: Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 10.04, the P/S ratio is 0.99 and the P/B ratio is finally 1.77. The dividend yield amounts to 3.23 percent and the beta ratio has a value of 0.82.

Erie Indemnity (ERIE) has a market capitalization of $3.45 billion. The company employs 4,400 people, generates revenue of $5.512 billion and has a net income of $619.00 million. Erie Indemnity's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $2.049 billion. The EBITDA margin is 37.17 percent (the operating margin is 16.31 percent and the net profit margin 11.23 percent).

Financial Analysis: The total debt represents 0.00 percent of Erie Indemnity's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 0.00 percent. Due to the financial situation, a return on equity of 22.49 percent was realized by Erie Indemnity. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $3.05. Last fiscal year, Erie Indemnity paid $4.25 in the form of dividends to shareholders.

Market Valuation: Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 24.21, the P/S ratio is 0.63 and the P/B ratio is finally 5.42. The dividend yield amounts ! to 3.19 p! ercent and the beta ratio has a value of 0.63.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has a market capitalization of $250.84 billion. The company employs 127,600 people, generates revenue of $67.224 billion and has a net income of $10.514 billion. Johnson & Johnson's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounts to $20.811 billion. The EBITDA margin is 30.96 percent (the operating margin is 20.49 percent and the net profit margin 15.64 percent).

Financial Analysis: The total debt represents 13.32 percent of Johnson & Johnson's assets and the total debt in relation to the equity amounts to 24.94 percent. Due to the financial situation, a return on equity of 17.81 percent was realized by Johnson & Johnson. Twelve trailing months earnings per share reached a value of $4.50. Last fiscal year, Johnson & Johnson paid $2.40 in the form of dividends to shareholders.

Market Valuation: Here are the price ratios of the company: The P/E ratio is 19.78, the P/S ratio is 3.74 and the P/B ratio is finally 3.75. The dividend yield amounts to 2.96 percent and the beta ratio has a value of 0.62.

Take a closer look at the full list of great dividend growth stocks with low debt ratios. The average P/E ratio amounts to 18.52 and forward P/E ratio is 16.73. The dividend yield has a value of 2.39 percent. Price to book ratio is 3.35 and price to sales ratio 2.34. The operating margin amounts to 24.81 percent and the beta ratio is 0.69. Stocks from the list have an average debt to equity ratio of 0.11.

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Related Stock Ticker Symbols:

Selected Articles:
· 18 Undervalued Stocks With Good Dividends And A Predictable Business
· 50 Shares With Fastest Dividend Growth In August 2013
· 13 Unlever! aged Divi! dend Challengers With Yields Over 2%
· 13 Cheap Stocks With Dividend Yields Over 3% And A Predictable Business

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bond yields plunge to 2014 lows: Why?

Pushed down by fears of a slowing economy, the yield on the bellwether 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.44% Wednesday, its lowest since June 2013.

Bond yields fall on economic weakness, and the bond market has been sensing weakness since Dec. 31, when the 10-year T-note yielded 3.03%. Driving yields lower:

• Economic weakness. Gross domestic product gained a tiny 0.1% in the first quarter, according to the first calculation from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and revisions are likely to show a contraction. Home prices lost momentum in the first quarter, as well.

• World weakness. Sluggish economic activity around the world has pushed other counties' interest rates lower than U.S. rates. The German 10-year government bond, for example, yields 1.34%, the French 10-year bond yields 1.72%, and the Japanese 10-year government bond yields 0.57%.

• World unease. Investors flock to Treasuries when war looms, in part because the U.S. has the world's largest army. Unease in Ukraine, Vietnam and the Middle East have made Treasuries a compelling buy for foreign investors.

Nevertheless, the surge into bonds puzzles some managers. Investors often run to bonds when stock market volatility is high; by most measures, it's low. The so-called "fear gauge," the Chicago Board Options Exchange's VIX, is nearing the lowest it's been since February 2007, according to Moody's Analytics. And the Federal Reserve has been buying fewer bonds in its quantitative easing strategy.

Sometimes, markets simply keep moving in one direction as investors pour in. "The market went through some technical levels today, and cash is just going in," says Loomis Sayles portfolio manager Chris Harms. "It was just a strong rally out of the gates this morning."

Bond prices rise when yields fall, and vice-versa. Including reinvested interest, the 10-year T-note has gained 5.9% this year, and the 30-year Treasury bond has soared 13%, Harms says. In contrast, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index has ga! ined about 4.3% with dividends reinvested this year, and the average stock fund has gained 1.8%, according to fund-tracker Lipper.

Mortgage investors will feel some benefit from lower 10-year T-note rates: The rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages tracks the 10-year T-note yield closely. Last week, the average 30-year mortgage rate was 4.14%, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, close to a seven-month low.

Despite the 10-year bond's fall in 2014, the T-note's yield is still nearly a percentage point above where it was a year ago, Harms says. The T-note yield hit 1.63% on May 2, 2013. Its all-time low: 1.40% in July 2012.

5 Reasons Why Media Execs Top CEO Pay Lists

5 Reasons Why Media Execs Top CEO Pay Lists Evan Agostini, Invision/APCBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves ranked No. 2 on a list of highest paid CEOs. LOS ANGELES -- Once again, media company CEOs are among the highest paid executives in the nation, occupying six of the top 10 earning spots, according to an Associated Press/Equilar study. Compensation experts say a variety of factors are at play, including the gain in media stocks, the intangible value of talent in a hit-or-miss business, the control of shareholder power in very few hands, and the decline of the financial sector. Stock Outperformers Outsized stock growth boosts the value of stock and option grants. Media companies' shares have rebounded strongly since the 2008 recession, mainly because advertising spending grows in tandem with a growing economy. That means higher-priced ads and higher-priced execs. Stocks of the six media companies on the list all outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC), which grew 128 percent in the five years through December 2013, according to FactSet. CBS (CBS) shares grew a whopping 699 percent in that period; Discovery Communications (DISCA) went up 539 percent; Viacom (VIA) rose 377 percent; Walt Disney (DIS) rose 250 percent; Time Warner (TWX) climbed 259 percent and Comcast (CMCSA) grew 223 percent. "If shareholders are happy they don't care how much a person makes," said Paul Dorf, managing director of consulting firm Compensation Resources. "When they complain most is when the market doesn't do well and their stock is going down the tubes." Talent Quotient Making it big in media means generating hits. And while top executives may not be hands-on with every decision, they are where the buck stops. Take Disney's animated blockbuster "Frozen," which grossed $1.2 billion at box offices worldwide. While Disney CEO Bob Iger didn't make the movie, he did orchestrate Disney's $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006, which brought in talented executives to help reform Disney's faltering animation studio. "With movie studios and the media, it's more of a talent business. You have highly paid people at all levels," said Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, a compensation consultant in New York. "The view is the right CEO can make a big difference." Voting Power Control of voting power by a single shareholder can dilute the impact of "say on pay" advisory votes, experts say. A major shareholder can override other shareholders' concerns. For instance, Sumner Redstone controls 79.7 percent of the vote at CBS and 79.3 percent of the vote at Viacom, possibly contributing to the higher pay of CEOs Les Moonves and Philippe Dauman, who were ranked No. 2 and No. 5. CEO Brian Roberts, ranked No. 10, controls 33.3 percent of the voting power at Comcast. And Discovery CEO David Zaslav, ranked No. 8, answers to one big boss: cable magnate John Malone, who controls 28.9 percent of the vote. "When you have the vote in your back pocket, you do not need to negotiate in the same way," said Nora McCord, managing director at Steven Hall & Partners, an executive compensation consulting firm in New York. Other Industries' Decline Lists in previous decades might have had more financial and banking executives. Since the Great Recession punished those companies with government bailouts, bank collapses, accounting revisions and writedowns, they have dropped in the pay rankings. "If you were to go back in time, a lot of these lists would have had financial executives," Johnson said. "They're not part of it anymore." All Boats Rise When one company boosts pay, others compensate to remain competitive. That's why executive pay within industries tends to "move in lock step," McCord said.

Could Anti-EU Vote Be Good for Markets?

Should the European Parliamentary elections matter for the markets?

The results leave some of Europe's mainstream politicians with bloody noses after the rise of the populist and euro skeptic vote. Perversely enough, anti-E.U. sentiment could ultimately benefit equities and bonds.

Indeed, European equity markets jumped on Monday and then edged higher again Tuesday.

In spite of the results at the past weekend’s elections, the power structure within the European Union still rests mainly with the national governments, who act through the European Commission and leaders’ summits.

Although the European Parliament enacts legislation and has supervisory powers, its impact tends to be on a micro level, relating to regulations it enacts and budget expenditures. So the direct effect of this week’s polls is likely to be marginal for markets.

The indirect effect could be more substantial.  After years of recession and austerity, it seems plenty of Europeans are saying “enough.” Behind the scenes, governments will work hard to ensure the anti-E.U. tide doesn’t gather strength, because all are fundamentally committed to the European project. But U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, has already called other European leaders asking for them to listen to the views expressed by voters. With a general election coming up, he is likely to be especially reactive, but further moves to encourage growth among Europe's still-ailing economies could encourage governments to clear the way for the European Central Bank to launch a seriously aggressive policy response.

That is likely to start at next week's policy meeting. ECB President Mario Draghi has hinted heavily that more central bank easing would be coming, subject to economic data. Well, the data have been disappointing–growth in the single currency region was muted during the first quarter and looks to have slowed further in the second. Inflation is still too low and credit provision continues to contract.

Indeed, in a speech on Monday, Mr Draghi gave markets another nudge that the ECB was planning further action, warning about the risks of the euro zone sliding into a deflationary spiral.

E.U. governments know that without economic recovery the anti-E.U. tendency will only grow. To that end they’re likely to ease political roadblocks that have so far hamstrung the ECB. This could finally tilt the central bank towards radical solutions, such as a large asset purchase program–known as quantitative easing–or to negative interest rates. To the benefit of both the equity and bond markets.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lawyers Plotted to Corrupt BP Oil Spill Settlement Program

Fire boats battle an explosion at the off shore oil rig Deepwater HorizonAlamy NEW ORLEANS -- An independent probe led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found evidence of a plot by lawyers to "corrupt" the BP (BP) settlement program but nothing that warranted shutting down payments to victims of the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report issued Friday. Freeh, who was appointed by a federal judge to investigate alleged misconduct by a staff attorney who worked on the settlement program, cleared court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau of engaging in any "conflict of interest, or unethical or improper conduct." But the former FBI director concluded that top members of Juneau's staff engaged in conduct that was improper, unethical and possibly criminal. He recommended that his report be forwarded to the Justice Department. "The nature and seriousness of this type conduct varied in degree but was pervasive and, at its extreme, may have constituted criminal conduct," the report said. Juneau said Freeh's report validates his team's work, and he played down the alleged misconduct by two former members of his staff as an "isolated situation." "We will continue the job of processing claims," he said in a statement. "We welcome the recommendations from the Freeh report and we look forward to working with him to help improve all aspects of the claims process." BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said the report "confirms what BP has suspected for some time: there has been fraud and unethical conduct within the facility itself and among various claimants and their lawyers -- and immediate steps need to be taken to prevent it in the future." "The evidence of conflicts of interest and misconduct assembled in Judge Freeh's report is shocking, but it simply underscores that neither BP nor the public has had any idea of what's really going on within the [settlement program]," Morrell said. "Judge Freeh's continued investigation is essential to assuring public confidence in the integrity of the claims process." Two of the lead plaintiffs' lawyers who brokered the settlement with BP last year said Freeh's report "confirmed what we knew to be true all along: that Patrick Juneau has, for more than a year, led the Court-Supervised Settlement Program with integrity, transparency and objectivity." "It is a testament to Mr. Juneau's running of the program that Judge Freeh's recommended that the Settlement Program continue paying claims unabated, with Juneau at the helm," the attorneys, Stephen Herman and Jim Roy, said in a statement. While the report points to certain conduct within the program as problematic, Freeh said, "this should not prevent the [settlement program] from fairly and efficiently processing and paying honest and legitimate claims in a timely manner." It also found that two private attorneys -- Glen Lerner and Jon Andry -- used Lionel Sutton, a lawyer on Juneau's staff, to expedite a claim by their firm for nearly $8 million. In return, Sutton received more than $40,000 in fees from payments on claims he had referred to their law firm before joining Juneau's staff, the report says. Freeh recommended turning over his report to the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana to determine whether Sutton, Lerner, Andry or Sutton's wife Christine Reitano, who also worked as a lawyer on Juneau's staff, violated any federal laws "regarding fraud, money laundering and conspiracy." Freeh also recommended that the court consider disallowing the $7.9 million payment of The Andry Law Firm claim based on "long-held principles of equity which prohibit a party before the court to benefit and enrich itself after having engaged in dishonest, unethical and improper conduct." "In this matter, the conduct of The Andry Law Firm is particularly egregious," the report said. "In effect, Mr. Jon Andry's AndryLerner firm was making secret, improper payments to Mr. Sutton at the precise time Mr. Sutton was a senior CAO attorney, working in concert with Mr. Jon Andry to expedite payment of The Andry Law Firm claim." Michael Walsh, an attorney for Lionel Sutton, said Freeh's allegations about his client's conduct possibly warranting a criminal probe are "absolutely unfounded." "There was no criminal activity on Mr. Sutton's part," Walsh said. "If Mr. Sutton had done anything criminally wrong, he would not have cooperated with Mr. Freeh." James Cobb, a lawyer for Andry, said his client hasn't done anything wrong and doesn't deserve to be smeared by Freeh. "It appears to me that Mr. Freeh reached a conclusion first and then worked his way backwards, citing facts which are unsupported in the record," Cobb said. Lawyers for Lerner and Reitano didn't immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Sutton resigned from his job at the settlement program in June. Reitano was fired later the same month. She has demanded to be reinstated, saying she didn't do anything wrong. BP had asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to suspend all settlement payments to businesses and residents pending the outcome of Freeh's investigation, but the judge denied that request on two separate occasions. Freeh's probe isn't over. His report said his work is "ongoing" and will result in recommendations for strengthening the settlement program's operations and anti-fraud measures. In April 2010, the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and leading to millions of gallons of oil being spewed into the water. Marshes, fisheries and beaches from Louisiana to Florida were fouled by the oil before the well was sealed. BP set up a compensation fund for individuals and businesses hurt by the spill and committed $20 billion. Juneau took over the processing of claims after the settlement was reached last year.

5 Best Sectors to Watch This Week

RSS Logo Portfolio Grader Popular Posts: Hottest Technology Stocks Now – ASX DDD HIMX CDNS7 Biotechnology Stocks to Buy NowHottest Healthcare Stocks Now – CLVS CYH AZN MNKD Recent Posts: Hottest Healthcare Stocks Now – PRXL ALXN ACHC HMSY Biggest Movers in Financial Stocks Now – HOMB GBL RATE HTH Biggest Movers in Technology Stocks Now – WBMD ATHN ULTI ZNGA View All Posts

The commercial banking, aerospace and defense, biotechnology, auto parts and life science sectors are showing strength this week, according to Portfolio Grader.

With 100% of the sector’s stocks (5 out of 5) rating a “buy,” the commercial banking sector is one of the strongest. Within the commercial banking sector, Pacific Capital Bancorp () and StellarOne Corporation () receive top marks of A’s. Citizens Republic Bancorp () is also getting a B.

Aerospace and defense is excelling, with 74% of stocks in the sector (31 out of 42) rating a “buy”. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (), Alliant Techsystem () and TASER International, Inc. () are all currently earning A’s.

Biotechnology stands out with 71% of the sector’s stocks (61 out of 86) rating a “buy”. Gentium S.p.A. Sponsored ADR (), Repligen Corporation () and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. () are lifting the sector overall, each earning a high grade of A.

The auto parts sector is thriving on Portfolio Grader this week, with 71% of its stocks (17 out of 24) currently rating a “buy”. With overall grades of A, Magna International (), Dorman Products, Inc. () and Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc. () are buoying the sector.

The life science sector’s track record is proving one of the best with 71% of its stocks (17 out of 24) rating a “buy”. Among life science stocks, Wuxi PharmaTech (Cayman) Inc. Sponsored ADR (), Covance () and Illumina, Inc. () are leading the way with A’s.

Louis Navellier’s proprietary Portfolio Grader stock ranking system assesses roughly 5,000 companies every week based on a number of fundamental and quantitative measures. Stocks are given a letter grade based on their results — with A being “strong buy,” and F being “strong sell.” Explore the tool here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

World stocks mostly higher on U.S. optimism

HONG KONG (AP) — World stocks mostly rose Monday on optimism about the U.S. economy, hints from China about further stimulus and hopes for greater stability in Ukraine after its elections.

Trading volumes were low, however, as U.S. and British markets were closed for holidays.

Investor sentiment was boosted after the Standard & Poor's 500 on Friday finished above the 1,900 level for the first time. The gains came after the Commerce Department on Friday reported that new home sales rose 6.4% in April after falling in the previous two months. Demand for new homes has been one of the last missing pieces as the U.S. economy, the world's largest, recovers from the global financial crisis.

Meanwhile, remarks by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that suggested Beijing is preparing further mini-stimulus measures to support the economy gave a lift to Chinese shares.

Li said appropriate policy tools and timely fine tuning are being prepared as the world's second biggest economy continues to face "relatively big" downward pressure, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Saturday, citing a speech Li gave on Thursday.

"There seems to be a growing view among Western strategists that while Chinese authorities will keep monetary policy steady, they are starting to look at fairly targeted support for the economy," said Chris Weston, chief strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne.

In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 1.3% to close at 9,892.82 and France's CAC 40 gained 0.8% to 4,526.93.

Investors were cheered by the fact that the result of the national election in Ukraine was accepted by both western powers and Russia. The president-elect said he would engage in talks with Moscow and seek to ease the crisis, though new attacks were made on pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country.

Meanwhile, results from the European Parliament elections showed parties that are against the European Union and favor stronger national borders — on issues from immigration to business �! � made huge gains. Experts say that while their advance will not affect the European Parliament significantly, as the disparate parties will have trouble creating alliances, their strong showing could push some governments to reassess their policies.

Among the notable exceptions was Italy, where a strong vote for the ruling party was seen to strengthen its mandate to reform the economy. Italy's stock market jumped 3.6 percent.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark rose 1% to close at 14,602.52 as the dollar strengthened against the yen, rising briefly above 102 yen in early trading before easing to 101.93. A weaker yen means the electronics, cars and other goods made by Japan's exporting giants such as Nikon, Sony and Honda are cheaper for overseas buyers.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3% to close at 2,041.48 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat 22,963.18. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.3% to 2,010.35 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 5,512.80.

The euro rose to $1.3653 from $1.3630.

In energy markets, oil prices rose. Benchmark crude for July delivery was up 44 cents to $104.18 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

For Gas Prices, It's Deja Vu This Holiday Weekend

It's Deja Vu for Gas Prices This Holiday Weekend Damian Dovarganes/AP NEW YORK -- The price of gasoline looks familiar this Memorial Day. For the third year in a row, the national average will be within a penny or two of $3.64 a gallon. Stability wasn't always the norm. Between 2003 and 2008 average retail gasoline prices more than doubled, reaching an all-time high of $4.11 a gallon in 2008. Prices then collapsed as the U.S. plunged into recession. But after a two-year run-up between 2009 and 2011, the price of gasoline has remained in a range of roughly $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon. Drivers can handle that, according to AAA, and are ready to head out for Memorial Day driving trips in the highest numbers since 2005. "It is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago," AAA wrote in its annual Memorial Day forecast. Steady gasoline prices are largely the result of relatively steady crude oil prices, even though there has been a long list of global supply disruptions and political turmoil that that typically would push the price of oil higher. Sanctions have sharply cut output from Iran, once the world's third largest oil exporter. Libya went through civil war, and labor and political disruptions continue to limit its exports. Venezuela's oil output has been steadily declining for a decade. Most recently, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is raising concerns that sanctions will impact production or exports from Russia, the world's second largest exporter after Saudi Arabia. But rising crude output in countries such as the U.S., Canada and Brazil have offset the declining supply elsewhere, helping to keep prices steady. Approaching this Memorial Day, the national average is $3.65 a gallon, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Last year on the holiday it was $3.63 a gallon. In 2012 it was $3.64. The story is similar with other fuels. Through the first quarter of this year airlines are paying $3.03 a gallon for jet fuel -- exactly the same they paid on average for all of last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average price of diesel, $3.93 a gallon, is a nickel higher than last year. Averages only tell part of the story, though. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and, compares the national average price of gasoline to the average temperature of the country -- outside your door it's almost certainly hotter or cooler than the average. This year, drivers in the Midwest, Great Plains states and the Rockies are paying quite a bit less than they did a year ago on Memorial Day weekend. The Minnesota average of $3.49 is 78 cents lower than last year, the biggest drop in the nation. Drivers in North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas are all paying at least 50 cents a gallon less. That's because last year some big Midwest refineries were taken offline to be upgraded to handle cheaper Canadian crude oil. That work is done and the refineries are churning out a lot of fuel, pushing down prices in the region. The story is different on the coasts, though. Refineries there have to pay higher prices for global crude, and more refineries are seeing downtime in Texas and Louisiana than in recent springs, according to Kloza. Gulf coast refiners supply much of the nation, and especially the coasts, with fuel. Pennsylvania drivers are paying $3.77 a gallon on average. That's 27 cents higher than last year, the biggest increase in the country. Drivers in the Carolinas and Alabama are paying at least 20 cents more than last year, though they are paying less than the national average. As usual, California drivers are paying the most in the lower 48 states, at $4.15 a gallon, about 10 cents higher than last Memorial Day weekend. Across the nation, all U.S. drivers will likely be paying less in the coming weeks, the result of a typical seasonal decline between late spring and early summer. "Temperate-to-lower prices is the most likely path for the next couple of months," Kloza says. "And then in hurricane season you just cross your fingers."

Four Reasons Tech Stocks Will Rebound in 2014

The year is nearly half over, and the mainstream media continues to obsess over a whipsaw stock market that's been cutting highflyers down to size.

The sullen outlook has lots of retail investors dumping tech stocks and running for the "safety" of the sidelines.

That's a mistake I'm urging you to avoid.

You see, I believe that stocks - and especially tech stocks - are poised to do very well in the last half of 2014. And that means the biggest losers will be the folks who cash out now.

This isn't just a wild guess on my part.

tech stocks

In particular, there are four reasons why tech stocks - and biotech stocks in particular - will do well in the final six months of the year. So today I'm going to show you why - before the midpoint hits - this is your best chance to position your portfolio... and cash in on that run.

My analysis shows that four specific catalysts will keep tech stocks moving for the rest of this year.

So let's jump right in...

Tech Stocks Catalyst No. 1: The Mobile Wave

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) trade group just reported that worldwide microchip sales reached $78.47 billion during the first quarter - the industry's highest-ever result for the first three months of a year. Sales for March were up 16.1% in the Americas, and 11.4% globally, on a year-over-year basis.

SEMI, the trade group representing the producers of chip-manufacturing gear, says equipment-makers signed $1.28 billion in orders in March, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.06. That represents a year-over-year increase of 16.1%.

Because wireless devices are growing in sophistication and are using more and more chips in each unit, mobile products like smartphones, tablets, and "phablets" will be a big driver here. And it's a multiyear driver: Sales of mobile/wireless products will power forward for at least the next three years, says market forecaster IDC.

In fact, in a recent report, IDC estimated that global sales of smartphones hit 1 billion units last year. And it expects sales to hit 1.68 billion by the end of 2017, an increase of nearly 70%.

The continued growth of the mobile wave will help keep semiconductor tech stocks thriving. As for the rest of the tech sector...

Tech Stocks Catalyst No. 2: Merger Mania

For the rest of 2014, I believe mergers and acquisitions (M&A) also will help drive tech stocks higher. Silicon Valley firms are sitting on mountains of cash, meaning they can afford to snap up smaller firms possessing promising technology.

So-called "bolt-on" deals allow the leaders to add product lines or markets while saving money by cutting redundant workers and offices.

According to a recent Moody's Investors Service report, U.S. companies outside of finance were holding $1.64 trillion in cash at the end of 2013. That's up 12% from 2012, the previous record year.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG, GOOGL), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) top the list of cash-heavy companies.

And that's why "Big Tech" is leading the deal wave. In recent weeks, for instance, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia Corp.'s mobile manufacturing and services unit - a deal it views as key to its future. Apple, which bought nearly two dozen firms last year, just grabbed a startup that can extend smartphone battery life. And Google, which has been "collecting" robotics firms, just picked up a leading maker of drones.

I expect this kind of deal making to continue for the rest of this year.

Tech Stocks Catalyst No. 3: Biotech Blockbusters

The urge to play "Let's Make a Deal" isn't limited to Big Tech. Big Pharma and biotech outfits will also be playing the M&A game in the year's final six months. And that could help the biotech sector sort itself out after a bear market sell-off in the first part of 2014.

For instance, as I wrote this, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) was still pursuing a $100 billion-plus merger with AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE ADR: AZN).

The recent retreat of biotech stocks from a blistering two-year rally really wasn't about fundamentals.

It was about congressional meddling.

In March, three congressmen told Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) Chief Executive Officer John C. Martin in a letter that the company's new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi was "extraordinarily" expensive.

With a sticker price of $84,000 for a full regimen, Sovaldi may seem expensive at first blush. But compare that to the $250,000 cost of a liver transplant, and it's clear the drug is actually pretty cost-effective.

Despite this congressional criticism, Sovaldi racked up a stunning $2.3 billion in first-quarter sales for Gilead.

But the letter from Congress raised the specter of Washington interference and increased regulation. And that was enough to help shove biotech stocks off the cliff.

The sell-off is now overdone, however. A new report from Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE ADR: CS) shows that biotech stocks have been greatly oversold and are poised for a rebound.

Tech Stocks Catalyst No. 4: The Graying of America

The biggest reason for my optimistic view of tech is a surprisingly secular catalyst.

I mean, just think about all those 401(k) accounts being opened and added to each day.

In short, I'm talking about the fact that America keeps getting older.

That means that rivers of cash, most of it retirement money, continues to flow into the stock market, including dozens of top tech stocks.

Just look at the data compiled by Aon Hewitt, a management consultancy that tracks retirement data for 1.3 million people at large corporations. In a recent report, Aon Hewitt found that the portion of new retirement money being invested in stocks has risen to 67%.

Let's put that figure in perspective. In February 2009, just about a month before the bull market began, only 48% of 401(k)s were devoted to stocks. That means long-term stock investing has increased by about 40% in just five years.

And at the end of 2013, the most recent data available, there was at least $5.9 trillion in 401(k) accounts, according to the Investment Company Institute. The trade group says IRA accounts represent an additional $6.5 trillion.

In other words, Americans already have nearly $12.5 trillion socked away in long-term accounts - most of it devoted to stocks.

The steady growth in retirement saving means more and more money is moving into stocks every single day. And that's one reason why - despite sluggish economic growth - the market keeps hitting record highs.

Taken together, these four catalysts should fuel a hefty rebound in U.S.-listed tech stocks in the second half of this year.

How much of your portfolio is devoted to tech stocks? Are you optimistic that tech stocks will rebound in the second half of the year? Share your thoughts on Twitter @moneymorning or Facebook.

Editor's Note: Thanks to innovative moves from CEO Elon Musk, Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) stock has gained a whopping 238% in the past year - and the company is not slowing down.

Now Tesla is engaged in a highly sensitive venture called BlueStar that could disrupt $737 billion of the U.S. economy and impact 98% of the population.

Few details concerning BlueStar have made their way into the press. However, a recent investigation uncovered some shocking revelations.

Click here to continue reading this must-see story...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now

Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you'd like to add some international dividend-paying stocks to your portfolio but don't have the time or expertise to hand-pick a few, the iShares Dow Jones International Select Div ETF (NYSEMKT: IDV  ) could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which companies will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in lots of them simultaneously.

The basics
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The iShares ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a relatively low 0.50% -- and it recently yielded more than 5%!

This ETF has performed �well, outstripping the MSCI EAFE index over the past three and five years. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.

Why international companies?
It's a smart idea to diversify your holdings not only by market size and industry but also geographically. If the U.S. economy stalls or slides, other economies may still be performing well and could help offset losses in your portfolio. Dividend-paying companies offer an extra bonus, as dividends can be quite powerful. Internationally reaped ones can be a little more complicated than domestic ones, though.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: Sunoco Logistics Partners LP (SXL)

Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. engages in the transport, terminalling, and storage of refined products and crude oil, as well as the purchase and sale of crude oil in the United States. Its Refined Products Pipeline System segment owns and operates approximately 2,200 miles of refined product pipelines that transport gasoline, heating oil, diesel and jet fuel, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This segment also includes approximately 100-mile refined products Harbor pipeline, and 50 miles of inter refinery pipelines; and various joint venture interests in refined product pipeline companies. The company?s Terminal Facilities segment consists of 42 refined product terminals with an aggregate storage capacity of 7.2 million barrels, primarily serving the Refined Products Pipeline System; the Nederland Terminal, a 20.2 million barrel marine crude oil terminal on the Texas Gulf Coast; a 2.0 million barrel refined products terminal serving Sunoco?s Marcus Hook refinery near Phi ladelphia, Pennsylvania; 1 inland and 2 marine crude oil terminals with a combined capacity of 3.4 million barrels, and related pipelines that serve Sunoco?s Philadelphia refinery; and a 1.0 million barrel LPG terminal near Detroit, Michigan. Its Crude Oil Pipeline System segment gathers, purchases, sells, and transports crude oil principally in Oklahoma and Texas. This segment consists of approximately 4,900 miles of crude oil trunk pipelines; approximately 500 miles of crude oil gathering lines; approximately 110 crude oil transport trucks; and approximately 100 crude oil truck unloading facilities. This segment also holds a 91% interest in the Mid-Valley Pipeline Company that owns approximately 1,000 miles of crude oil pipelines; a 60.3% interest in West Texas Gulf Pipe Line Company, which includes approximately 600 miles of crude oil pipe; and a 37.0 percent undivided interest in the 100-mile Mesa Pipe Line system. The company was founded in 2001 and is based in Philadel phia, Pennsylvania.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Robert Rapier]

    But it is important to note that ETE also has interests in Sunoco Logistics Partners (NYSE: SXL) and Regency Energy Partners (NYSE: RGP).

    Finally, consider NuStar Energy (NYSE: NS) and its general partner NuStar GP Holdings (NYSE: NSH). Like ETE, NSH went public in 2006 and has also significantly outperformed its limited partner since:

    The vast majority of partnerships don’t have a publicly-traded GP. But in each of these three cases in which the GP is publicly traded, the GP tends to outperform the LP units on long-term gains, an advantage somewhat offset by the typically higher LP yield.

  • [By Dividends4Life]

    Sunoco Logistics Partners (SXL) is a master limited partnership (MLP) that was formed by Sunoco Inc. to acquire, own and operate a group of refined product and crude oil pipelines and terminal facilities.
    Yield: 3.6% | Years of Dividend Growth: 11

  • [By Matt DiLallo]

    The potential bidders
    There are a lot of names being thrown around as potential purchasers of these assets, including Marathon Petroleum (NYSE: MPC  ) , Sunoco Logistics (NYSE: SXL  ) , and Buckeye Partners (NYSE: BPL  ) . Both Sunoco and Buckeye are MLPs, which is where I personally think these assets are best suited. Let's take a closer look at each company to see which one makes the most strategic sense.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: ING Risk Managed Natural Resources Fund (IRR)

ING Risk Managed Natural Resources Fund the (Fund) is a non- diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund�� investment objective is total return through a combination of current income, capital gains and capital appreciation. The Fund will seek to achieve its investment objective by investing in a portfolio of equity securities of companies in the energy and natural resources industries. ING Investments, LLC is the Fund�� investment adviser.

The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing at least 80% of its managed assets in the equity securities of, or derivatives linked to the equity securities of companies that are primarily engaged in owning or developing energy, other natural resources and basic materials, or supplying goods and services to such companies (Natural Resources Companies). Equity securities held by the Fund could include common stocks, preferred shares, convertible securities, warrants and depository receipts.

The Fund�� top 10 holdings include ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger Ltd., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., Valero Energy Corp., Hess Corp., XTO Energy, Inc. and EI DuPont de Nemours & Co.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Value Digger]

    Manitok's total cost per Well (Drill, Case, Complete, Equip & Tie) is about $5.5 million. With average reserves per well ranging from 300 to 850 MMboe, the average payout is about 1.5 years and the peak Internal Rate of Return (IRR) reaches even 150% in some of the most productive properties of the company. Considering the company's balanced production mix, the average operating netback for 2013 is strong and hovers at approximately $33/boe.

5 Best Japanese Stocks To Watch Right Now: Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc (USAP)

Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc., incorporated in 1994, manufactures and markets semi-finished and finished specialty steel products, including stainless steel, tool steel and certain other alloyed steels. The Company�� manufacturing process involves melting, re-melting, heat treating, hot and cold rolling, forging, machining and cold drawing of semi-finished and finished specialty steels. The Company�� products are sold to re-rollers, forgers, service centers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and wire re-drawers. The Company�� customers further process its products for use in a range of industries, including the aerospace, power generation, petrochemical and heavy equipment manufacturing industries. The Company also performs conversion services on materials supplied by customers, which lack certain of the Company�� production facilities or that are subject to their own capacity constraints. On August 18, 2011, the Company acquired Patriot Special Metals, Inc. and RSM Real Estate Holding, Inc.

The Company operates in two segments: Universal Stainless & Alloy Products (USAP) and Dunkirk Specialty Steel. The Company�� products are manufactured in a range of grades and melt qualities, including argon oxygen decarburization (AOD) quality, electro-slag remelted (ESR) quality, vacuum induction melting (VIM) quality and vacuum-arc remelted (VAR) quality. At its Bridgeville facility, the Company produces specialty steel products in the form of long products (ingots, blooms, billets and bars) and flat rolled products (slabs and plates). In December 2011, the Company began melting in its new VIM furnace located in North Jackson. The semi-finished long products are used by the Company�� Dunkirk facility and certain customers to produce finished bar, rod and wire products, and the semi-finished flat rolled products are used by customers to produce light-gauge plate, sheet and strip products. The finished bar products manufactured by the Company are used by OEMs and by ser! vice center customers for distribution to a range of end users. The Company also produces customized shapes for OEMs that are cold rolled from purchased coiled strip, flat bar or extruded bar at its Precision Rolled Products department, located at its Titusville facility.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jake L'Ecuyer]

    In trading on Wednesday, basic materials shares dropped by 0.30 percent. Among the sector stocks, Amyris (NASDAQ: AMRS) was down more than 8.5 percent, while Universal Stainless & Alloy Products (NASDAQ: USAP) tumbled around 5 percent.

  • [By Jake L'Ecuyer]

    In trading on Wednesday, basic materials shares dropped by 0.30 percent. Among the sector stocks,Amyris (NASDAQ: AMRS) was down more than 8.5 percent, while Universal Stainless & Alloy Products (NASDAQ: USAP) tumbled around 5 percent.

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Universal Stainless & Alloy Products (Nasdaq: USAP  ) reported earnings on May 1. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), Universal Stainless & Alloy Products missed estimates on revenues and missed estimates on earnings per share.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: Athabasca Oil Corp (ATHOF.PK)

Athabasca Oil Corporation, formerly Athabasca Oil Sands Corp., is focused on the exploration and development of unconventional oil resource plays in Alberta, Canada. The Company is organized into two divisions: thermal oil and light oil. Thermal oil includes the Company�� assets, liabilities and operating results for the exploration, development and production of bitumen from sand and carbonate rock formations located in the Athabasca region of Northern Alberta. Light oil includes the Company�� assets, liabilities and operating results for the exploration, development and production of unconventional oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids located in various regions in the province of Alberta. Athabasca has accumulated more than 1.5 million (net) acres of oil sands leases in the Athabasca area of northern Alberta. The Company�� oil sands projects are Hangingstone (100%), Dover West Sands (100%), Dover West Carbonates (100%), Dover (40%), Birch (100%) and Grosmont (50%). Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Stephan Dube]

    Athabasca's most notable producers:

    Suncor Energy (SU) (Part 1), see article here.Suncor Energy (Part 2), see article here.Athabasca Oil (ATHOF.PK), see article here.Canadian Natural Resources, see article here.Imperial Oil, see article here.Cenovus Energy (CVE), see article here.MEG Energy (MEGEF.PK), see article here.Devon Energy, see article here.Royal Dutch Shell, see article here.Ivanhoe Energy (IVAN), see article here.Nexen (CNOOC) (CEO), see article here.

    An analysis of the current operations of the company will be examined with the objective to provide the most complete information available to potential investors before deciding to seize the opportunity that the 54,132 square miles of the Carbonate Triangle has to offer. Let's start by introducing Athabasca, a famous and most prolific region in the Canadian oil sands as well as one of the largest reserve in the world.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc.(NPSP)

NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the development of therapeutic products for gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders, and various medical needs. The company?s primary clinical programs include two therapeutic peptides to restore or replace biological functions comprising GATTEX, a Phase 3 clinical trial product for short bowel syndrome; and Natpara, a recombinant human parathyroid hormone 1-84, which is in Phase 3 clinical development trials. It also develops NPSP790 and NPSP795 calcilytic compounds that are in Phase I trials for the treatment of rare endocrine disorders. The company has collaborative and license agreements with Amgen Inc., Janssen, GlaxoSmithKline, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, and Nycomed Danmark ApS. NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in 1986 and is based in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By George Budwell]

    NPS Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NPSP  ) continued its torrid ascent �jumping another 10% last week. NPS shares have now risen 225% year to date, propelled primarily by the commercial launch of the company's orphan drug for short bowel syndrome, or SBS, called Gattex. Gattex was approved by the FDA in 2012 and launched last February.

  • [By Keith Speights]

    Although there is no cure for SBS, three drugs have been approved in the U.S. for treating the disease. The most recently approved treatment is Gattex. NPS Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NPSP  ) received Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug in late 2012. Gattex works by spurring growth in mucous membranes involved in absorption and secretion.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: Guidewire Software Inc (GWRE)

Guidewire Software, Inc. (Guidewire), incorporated in 2001, is a provider of system software to the global property and casualty insurance industry. The Company�� solutions serve as the transactional systems-of-record for, and enable the functions of a property and casualty insurance carrier�� business, such as underwriting and policy administration, claims management and billing. Guidewire has developed a suite of configurable applications that are delivered through a Web-based interface and can be deployed either on-premise or in cloud environments. Its Guidewire InsuranceSuite includes Guidewire PolicyCenter, Guidewire ClaimCenter and Guidewire BillingCenter applications, which enable a range of property and casualty insurance operations. The Company derives its revenues from licensing software applications, providing maintenance support and providing professional services, principally consisting of implementation and training services. Guidewire�� license revenues are primarily generated through annual license fees. In May 2013, Guidewire Software Inc acquired Millbrook Inc.

Guidewire PolicyCenter

Guidewire PolicyCenter is the Company�� underwriting and policy administration application that serves as a system-of-record that supports the policy lifecycle, including product definition, underwriting, quoting, binding, issuances, endorsements, audits, cancellations and renewals. PolicyCenter integrates the underwriting process of evaluating risks and establishing the appropriate policy terms and pricing.

Guidewire ClaimCenter

Guidewire ClaimCenter is the Company�� claims management application for claim intake, assessment, settlement and processing of claim-related financial transactions. ClaimCenter provides property and casualty insurance carriers with the tools built within a business rules-based claims application.

Guidewire BillingCenter

Guidewire BillingCenter is its billing and receivables management a! pplication. It automates the billing lifecycle, enables the design of a range of billing and payment plans, manages agent commissions and integrates with external payment systems. BillingCenter handles direct and agency billing for all property and casualty insurance lines of business, and its dual-entry accounting core integrates with a property and casualty insurance carrier�� general ledger.

The Company competes with Accenture, Computer Sciences Corporation, MajescoMastek, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, AQS, Inc., OneShield, Inc., StoneRiver, Inc., Oracle Corporation, Pegasystems Inc. and SAP AG.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rebecca McClay]

    In earnings news today, a few companies are reporting after the closing bell, including H & R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB), which is up about 1%. Pike Electric Corp. (NYES: PIKE), Guidewire Software Inc. (NYSE: GWRE), and Sigma Designs Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGM) are also reporting quarterly earnings late this afternoon.

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Guidewire Software (NYSE: GWRE  ) results for the company's fiscal Q3 have been released. For the quarter, revenue was $68 million, an improvement over the $57 million it posted in the same period the previous year. The bottom line turned red, however, swinging to a loss of $2.7 million ($0.05 per diluted share) from Q3 2012's profit of $3.1 million ($0.05).�

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: Penn National Gaming Inc.(PENN)

Penn National Gaming, Inc. and its subsidiaries own and manage gaming and pari-mutuel properties in the United States. It operates approximately 27,000 gaming machines; 500 table games; and 2,000 hotel rooms in 23 facilities in 16 jurisdictions, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario. The company was formerly known as PNRC Corp. and changed its name to Penn National Gaming, Inc. in 1994. Penn National Gaming, Inc. was founded in 1982 and is based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Although Penn National Gaming (PENN) completed the spinoff of its real estate assets on Nov. 1, 2013, Gaming and Leisure Properties��(GLPI) shares have traded since mid-October. The only pure-play Casino REIT was created to provide PENN shareholders with two investments: gaming and real estate. Both businesses would be able to focus on what they do best with shareholders better off as a result. I can�� argue with the rationale.

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ: PENN) shares fell 1.71% to reach a new 52-week low of $12.05. Penn National Gaming is expected to report its Q4 results on February 6.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: GASFRAC Energy Services Inc (GFS)

GASFRAC Energy Services Inc. (GASFRAC) is an oil and gas service company, whose business is to provide liquid petroleum gas (LPG) fracturing services to oil and gas companies in Canada and the United States of America. As of December 31, 2011, GASFRAC had three 32 tons and nine 100 tons sand storage vessels, 47 fracturing pumpers, 150 LPG storage tanks and related equipment. GASFRAC�� services are marketed and operated under the name of its wholly owned subsidiary GASFRAC Energy Services Limited Partnership. The Company has commercialized the use of LPG as the fracturing fluid. The Company�� subsidiaries include GASFRAC Services GP Inc., GASFRAC US Holdings Inc., GASFRAC Inc., GASFRAC Energy Services (US) Inc. and GASFRAC Luxembourg S.a.r.l. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    G4S Plc (GFS) dropped 1.7 percent to 225.6 pence. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reiterated its ��onviction sell��recommendation on the provider of security services, citing continued pressure on its profit margin in the second quarter.

  • [By Sarah Jones]

    G4S Plc (GFS) sank 15 percent to 260 pence. The security company reported a lower operating margin for the first quarter, citing challenging economic and trading conditions in continental Europe. It expects the margin trend to continue for the full year.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: Poseidon Nickel Ltd (POS)

Poseidon Nickel Limited is an Australia-based company engaged in exploration, mining and production of Nickel and other minerals. The Company�� Windarra nickel project, includes an implied ore reserve (mineable resource) of 3,446,000 ore tons at an average grade of 1.79% nickel for 61,500 nickel metal tons and has a mine life of six years. Cerberus is closely located to Poseidon�� existing operations approximately 10.5 kilometers south of the Mt Windarra nickel mine. In September 2011, Poseidon entered into an earn-in agreement with Magma Metals Limited (Magma) for nickel, copper and PGE rights to a tenement package adjoining its Windarra Nickel Project (WNP). The new tenements cover 203 square kilometers. The Company�� subsidiaries include Poseidon Nickel Atlantis Operations Pty Ltd, Poseidon Nickel Olympia Operations Pty Ltd and Wells Gold Corporation (International) Pty Ltd. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By jaggom]

    NetSuite acquired Retail Anywhere recently that sells point of sale (POS) retail software and software solutions to multi-channel retail stores. The acquisition allowed NetSuite to grow its presence in stores. Retail Anywhere�� cloud capabilities will compile transactions from across stores, and integrate them with back-end support systems of businesses and offer customers a complete solution.

Best Sliver Companies To Buy Right Now: MarineMax Inc (HZO)

MarineMax, Inc., incorporated in January 1998, is a recreational boat dealer in the United States. Through 54 retail locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas, the Company sells new and used recreational boats, including pleasure and fishing boats. It also sells related marine products, including engines, trailers, parts, and accessories. In addition, the Company provides repair, maintenance, and slip and storage services; it arranges related boat financing, insurance, and extended service contracts; it offers boat and yacht brokerage services, and it operates a yacht charter business. It is also retailer of Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Bayliner, Cabo, Hatteras, and Meridian recreational boats and yachts, all of which are manufactured by Brunswick Corporation (Brunswick). In March 2013, it acquired Parker Boat Company's retail boat sales and service operations in Orlando and Daytona, Florida.

The Company is a dealer for Hatteras Yachts throughout the state of Florida (excluding the Florida panhandle) and the states of New Jersey, New York, and Texas; the exclusive dealer for Cabo Yachts throughout the states of Florida, New Jersey, and New York; the exclusive dealer for Boston Whaler in many of its markets; the exclusive dealer for Bayliner in many of its markets, and the exclusive dealer for Meridian Yachts in most of its markets. In addition, it is the exclusive dealer for Italy-based Azimut-Benetti Group for Azimut mega-yachts, yachts, and other recreational boats for the Northeast United States from Maryland to Maine and the state of Florida.

New Boat Sales

The Company sells recreational boats, including pleasure boats and fishing boats. The products it offers are manufactured by Brunswick, the manufacturer of recreational boats, including Sea Ray pleasure boats, Boston Whaler fishing boats, Cab! o Yachts, Hatteras Yachts, and Meridian Yachts. During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011 (fiscal 2011), it derived approximately 48% of its revenue from the sale of new boats manufactured by Brunswick. During fiscal 2011, new boat sales accounted for 60.6% of its revenue. It offers recreational boats in most market segments. Hatteras Yachts and Azimut are two of the premier yacht builders. The motor yacht product lines include designs with live-aboard luxuries. Hatteras offers a flybridge with guest seating; covered aft deck, which may be fully or partially enclosed, providing the boater with additional living space; an elegant salon; and multiple staterooms for accommodations.

Hatteras Yachts and Cabo Yachts are convertible yacht builders and offer designs with live-aboard luxuries. Convertibles are primarily fishing vessels, which are well equipped to meet the needs of even the most serious tournament-class competitor. Hatteras features interiors that offer luxurious salon/galley arrangements, multiple staterooms with private heads, and a cockpit that includes a bait and tackle center, fishbox, and freezer. Cabo is known for spacious cockpits and accessibility to essentials, such as bait chests, livewells, bait prep centers, and tackle lockers.

Sea Ray and Meridian pleasure boats target both the luxury and the family recreational boating markets and come in a range of configurations to suit each customer�� particular recreational boating style. Sea Ray sport yachts and yachts serve the luxury segment of the recreational boating market and include living accommodations with a salon, a fully equipped galley, and multiple staterooms. Sea Ray sport yachts and yachts are available in cabin, bridge cockpit, and cruiser models. Meridian sport yachts and yachts are available in sedan, motoryacht, and pilothouse models.

The fishing boats the Company offers, such as Boston Whaler and Grady White, range from entry level models to advanced models designed for fish! ing and w! ater sports in lakes, bays, and off-shore waters, with cabins with limited live-aboard capability. The fishing boats feature livewells, in-deck fishboxes, rodholders, rigging stations, cockpit coaming pads, and fresh and saltwater washdowns. The ski boats it offers, such as Malibu, Axis, and Nautique by Correct Craft, range from entry level models to advanced models.

Used Boat Sales

The Company sells used versions of the new makes and models it offers and, to a lesser extent, used boats of other makes and models generally taken as trade-ins. During fiscal 2011, used boat sales accounted for 19.0% of its revenue, and 77.1% of the used boats it sold were Brunswick models. It also sells used boats at various marinas and other offsite locations throughout the country. In addition, it offers the Sea Ray Legacy warranty plan available for used Sea Ray boats less than six years old. The Legacy plan applies to each qualifying used Sea Ray boat, which has passed a 48-point inspection, and provides protection against failure of most mechanical parts for up to three years.

Marine Engines, Related Marine Equipment, and Boating Parts and Accessories

The Company offers marine engines and propellers, substantially all of which are manufactured by Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick. It sells marine engines and propellers primarily to retail customers as replacements for their existing engines or propellers. It also sells a range of marine parts and accessories at its retail locations, at various offsite locations, through its print catalog, and through the Website portal. These marine parts and accessories include marine electronics; dock and anchoring products, such as boat fenders, lines, and anchors; boat covers; trailer parts; water sport accessories, such as tubes, lines, wakeboards, and skies; engine parts; oils; lubricants; steering and control systems; corrosion control products, service products; high-performance accessories, such as propellers and instr! uments, a! nd a complete line of boating accessories, including life jackets, inflatables, and water sports equipment. It also offers novelty items, such as shirts, caps, and license plates bearing the manufacturer�� or dealer�� logos. The sale of marine engines, related marine equipment, and boating parts and accessories accounted for 6.2% of the Company�� during fiscal 2011 revenue.

Maintenance, Repair, and Storage Services

The Company provides maintenance and repair services at most of its retail locations, with extended service hours at certain of its locations. In addition, in many of its markets, it provides mobile maintenance and repair services at the location of the customer�� boat. The Company performs both warranty and non-warranty repair services. It derives the majority of its warranty revenue from Brunswick products. Its maintenance and repair services are performed by manufacturer-trained and certified service technicians. At many of the Company�� locations, it offers boat storage services, including in-water slip storage and inside and outside land storage. Maintenance, repair, and storage services accounted for 8.9% of its revenue during fiscal 2011. This includes warranty and non-warranty services.

F&I Products

At each of the Company�� retail locations, it offers the customers the ability to finance new or used boat purchases and to purchase extended service contracts and arrange insurance coverage, including boat property, credit life, and accident, disability, and casualty insurance coverage (collectively, F&I). The Company also offers third-party extended service contracts under which, for a predetermined price, it provides all designated services pursuant to the service contract guidelines during the contract term at no additional charge to the customer above a deductible. Credit life insurance policies provide for repayment of the boat financing contract if the purchaser dies while the contract is outstanding. Accident an! d disabil! ity insurance policies provide for payment of the monthly contract obligation during any period in which the buyer is disabled. Property and casualty insurance covers loss or damage to the boat.

Brokerage Services

Through employees or subcontractors that are licensed boat or yacht brokers, the Company offers boat or yacht brokerage services at most of its retail locations. It also offers for sale brokered boats or yachts, listing them on various Internet sites, advising its other retail locations, and posting them on its Website, Its maintenance and repair services, including mobile service, also are generally available to its brokerage customers.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By John Udovich]

    As we head towards Black Friday, small cap specialty retail stocks United Online, Inc (NASDAQ: UNTD), TravelCenters of America LLC (NYSE: TA) and MarineMax, Inc (NYSE: HZO) have the distinction of being the best performing small cap�specialty retail stocks for this year (according to with gains of 181.2%, 123.8% and 71.8%, respectively. With those returns in mind, what are these small cap specialty retail stocks doing right and will the performance last through the all important holiday season? Here is what new and existing investors and traders alike need to know or consider:

Will 3D Images Be Google’s Next Great Innovation?

Every product has a limited life and the only thing that can stretch its life is product development. Google (GOOG) constantly keeps improving its smartphone offerings with the aim to provide better and innovative features to its users. But no matter how much development is taking place, the scope of the offering is not expanding much. What about giving something new to the users? Well, it seems, with this latest development, Google is on to that.

The Mountain View based tech giant is busy working on a technology that will allow the users to take 3 dimensional (3D) pictures using their smartphones and tablets, allowing them to come out of the 2D world of pictures. Google has been working on this technology for quite some time now and finally it is going to roll out 4,000 tablets next month for the developers. The intention behind the move is to provide the developers with a prototype device which they can use to create apps that will complement the technology.

The Innovation And Its Implications Google is still in the testing phase of this technology and has not commented on how soon one can expect it to be commercially available. For the test phase the company has decided to offer the developers with tablets and not smartphones, forcing many to ask the question if the technology will be optimized for tablets only. However, industry experts and analysts are more than sure that the company will put equal weights on both the type of devices.

The latest trend in the smartphone space revolves around devices with improved camera capabilities. Companies such as Nokia (NOK) and Sony (SNE) have already started realizing the changing needs of the consumers and have started offering handsets with high quality camera. In fact, for several of these handsets, the camera quality is the unique selling point. Even Apple (AAPL) stresses greatly on the capabilities of the iSight camera in its devices.

Google too has taken a note of changing consumer preference and it's this realization that has pushed the company to develop 3D imaging. Despite innumerable advancements in the camera technology, the company feels the present day smartphone cameras are not able to do justice to the consumer needs. According the Johnny Lee, Project Lead at Advanced Technology and Project (ATAP) Group of Google, "Human beings live in a 3 dimensional world and yet the mobile devices assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen". Google wants to address this exact issue by incorporating in the devices "a human scale feeling of space and motion".

The tech guys at Google and even industry experts believe that once the technology has been tested and improved and made commercially available, it will be able to change the fundamentals of the way in which people interact with their environment.

How Is This Being Done In February Google had introduced a prototype smartphone that was being used by the tech guys at ATAP to improve the technology and finally it seems it must be ready since the company now wants the developers to take a look at it. The tablet devices that Google will roll out will be very similar to the smartphone it used, the only difference being in the screen size. The devices will come with a 4 megapixel rear camera, a motion tracking camera, infrared depth sensors and will be accompanied by software designed to capture 3D images.

The device will capture the image using the rear camera and the motion tracking camera will let the device understand from which angle the image is being taken. The motion tracking camera and the infrared depth sensors will allow the phone to track its motion in full 3D. The sensors will simultaneously take measurements and will update the position of the phone along with rotations and will finally bring together all the information in a single 3D model.

Departing Thoughts All this sounds pretty interesting no doubt, but the question remains how soon Google can translate this technology from being an idea into an actual commercial application. The primary barrier that Google is likely to face is not related to the development of the technology, rather it will be related to its application. The technology may be already ready, but the usage is yet to be seen. Even Google is not sure of the limits of 3D imaging and that's why it's allowing the developers to access it. It will be upon these developers to interpret, improvise and translate the technology into realistic applications that can make everyday life easier for the consumers. Once this dream is realized, this technology surely has the potential to change the smartphone and tablet game, yet again.

About the author:Quick PenA seasonal writer with a Management Degree in Finance and interests in automotive, technology, telecommunication and aerospace sectors.
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tiffany Q1 Sales Up 13%, Comps Up 11%

Tiffany & Co Tiffany & Co. said Wednesday that worldwide net sales in the first quarter increased 13 percent, year-over-year, to $1 billion led by strong results in nearly all regions and product categories. On a constant-exchange-rate basis that excludes the effect of translating foreign-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars worldwide net sales rose 15 percent and comparable store sales rose 11 percent due to growth in most regions.

The New York-based luxury jewelry retailer said the spike in sales was combined with an improved operating margin, resulting in a growth in net earnings to $126 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, from $84 million, or $0.65 per diluted share, in last year's first quarter when pre-tax expenses of $9 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, were recorded for staff and occupancy reductions. Excluding those expenses, net earnings rose 41 percent.

Tiffany also increased its earnings forecast for the current fiscal year.

Sales by region are as follows:

* In the Americas, total sales increased 8 percent to $439 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 9 percent and comparable store sales rose 8 percent, primarily due to geographically broad-based growth across the U.S.

* In Asia-Pacific, total sales rose 17 percent to $261 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales increased 19 percent and comparable store sales rose 10 percent with noteworthy growth throughout Greater China and in Australia.

* In Japan, total sales surged 20 percent to $174 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis eliminating the negative effect of a weaker yen versus the U.S. dollar, total sales and comparable store sales rose 29 percent and 30 percent.

* In Europe, total sales rose 9 percent to $101 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 2 percent and comparable store sales declined 3 percent. Trends were similar in the U.K. and in continental Europe.

* Other sales increased 39 percent to $37 million, primarily due to retail sales growth which included 18 percent comparable store sales growth in the United Arab Emirates and the opening of the first company-operated Tiffany & Co. store in Russia. Other sales also benefited from an increase in wholesale sales of diamonds; such diamonds are a result of the company's rough diamond sourcing operations.

"This is an excellent and encouraging start to the year," said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO. "We were pleased with the strong and broad-based sales growth across most regions and product categories and our ability to leverage those improved sales into very significant growth in operating and net earnings. Strength in fine and statement jewelry sales continued, while sales of our new or expanded jewelry collections accelerated, led by our ATLAS collection."

Based on the results, Tiffany increased its earnings forecast for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2015, to a range of $4.15-$4.25 per diluted share, versus its previously-published forecast of $4.05-$4.15 per diluted share.

Tiffany opened four stores in the first quarter (including a store on the Champs Elysees in Paris) and closed one in the US. The company now operates 292 stores (121 in the Americas, 72 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan, 38 in Europe, five in the U.A.E. and one in Russia), versus 275 stores a year ago.

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