Saturday, December 28, 2013

Barron's Loves Housing - Highlights - Review & Preview

U.S. home prices are climbing again, but at more measured rates than during the last boom. Why the housing cycle still has room to run.

Staple stocks good insurance for a downswing, Barron's says
Staple stocks such as Wal-Mart (WMT), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Coca-Cola
(KO) are a good defensive bet against the risk of a market downswing, according
to Barron's "Streetwise" column.

Coca-Cola could rise 20% or more in 2014, Barron's contends
 After two years of relative underperformance, Coca-Cola's (KO) stock could
rise 20% or more in 2014 due to expected growth in both earnings and revenue, as
well as a rising dividend 
Loral, Wendy's, Carmike, other small-caps attractive, Barron's says
Loral Space & Communications (LORL), Wendy's (WEN), Carmike Cinemas
(CKEC), Crocs (CROX), Orient Express Hotels (OEH), and Outerwall (OUTR) were all
mentioned positively in Barron's "Sizing Up Small Caps" column.

REVIEW & PREVIEW -- Barron's
Dec 28 at 00:06

      (FROM BARRON'S 12/30/13)
      Edited by Mike Vallo
      Last Week

Dow Indicator

   Dow Industrials            16478.41   +257.27
   Dow Global Index             312.75     +4.94
   10-Year Treasury Bonds         3.00     +0.11

      Social Media and Flash Crashes
      The Silent Tweet
      You can blame Twitter and Facebook for all kinds of noxious behavior, but
it turns out you can't pin flash crashes on them.
      Last April, a prankster claiming membership in the Syrian Electronic Army
hacked into the Twitter feed of the Associated Press and reported explosions at
the White House that injured President Obama. Markets plunged, momentarily
erasing $136 billion in equity value. In August 2012, someone masquerading on
Twitter as the Russian minister of the interior reported the assassination of
Syria's Bashar Assad, immediately goosing the price of West Texas Intermediate
crude by a $1 a barrel.
      The media concluded from these episodes that firms with automated trading
systems had programmed their robots to track Twitter and Facebook and base some
of their decisions on trending topics. Data and news companies piled on by
touting "scrapings" from social-media sites to help robots gauge fickle public
      But au contraire. It turns out that some of the world's savviest automated
trading firms are not buying into social media at all. The Futures Industry
Association recently surveyed 26 members of its principal traders group --
proprietary trading firms in the U.S., Europe, and Australia -- and asked them
what kind of market data they feed to their robots. In a big surprise, none of
them directly followed social media when making decisions, either by computer or
old-fashioned brain. What do they use? Seven reported using feeds from news and
information services, including weather reports and government reports. Last we
checked, Mother Nature didn't have a Twitter account.
      -- Jim McTague
      Stocks on a Roll
      Despite edging slightly lower Friday, stocks ended the holiday-shortened
week higher. The Dow industrials, after hitting an all-time high Thursday, ended
the week at 16,478.41, rising 1.6%. For the year, the Dow is up 25.75%. The
yield on the U.S. Treasury 10-year bond closed above the 3% mark for the first
time in more than two years.
      Apple Scales Great Wall
      Apple will offer the iPhone on China Mobile's network starting Jan. 17.
The deal will give Apple access to China Mobile's 700 million-plus subscribers
and probably angina to rival Samsung Electronics, which dominates the Chinese
smartphone market. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy might be losing steam; a top
Chinese planning official estimated the economy grew 7.6% in 2013, down from
last year's 7.7%.
      Durable Recovery
      The U.S. gave fresh indications of an accelerating economy. Last week's
data - - a 3.5% uptick in durable-goods orders, brisk new-home sales, and a rise
in consumer spending -- gave further evidence the American economic recovery has
legs. Little wonder that the International Monetary Fund aims to raise its 2014
growth forecast for the U.S.
      No Buzz at BlackBerry
      The fortunes of BlackBerry became cloudier. Co-founder Michael Lazaridis
cut his stake in the smartphone maker and indicated he no longer plans to pursue
a joint bid for the company.
      UPS Plays Grinch
      Maybe retailers should've hired Santa Claus. Overwhelmed by a surge in
late- minute shopping, United Parcel Service failed to deliver millions of gifts
by Christmas. UPS and even FedEx drew a lot of heat from disappointed customers,
but so did retailers such as and Wal-Mart Stores, which whiffed on
their delivery promises.
      Mailing in Higher Rate
      The struggling U.S. Postal Service has a plan to recoup $2.8 billion of
losses. Starting Jan. 26, it will raise the price of a first-class stamp by
three cents, to 49 cents. The increase will last two years.
      Healthy Enrollment?
      Amid a last-minute rush of customers, the Obama administration and several
states extended the deadline beyond last Monday for customers to sign up for
health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, in order to have their coverage
start by the Jan. 1 cutoff.
      Tarnished Partnership
      Pricey jewelry retailer Tiffany has to pay watchmaker Swatch Group nearly
$450 million in damages over a failed partnership. Tiffany will record a
fourth- quarter charge this year to help account for the penalty, which exceeded
its annual earnings last year.
      Bid Doesn't Fit
      Jos. A Bank Clothiers rejected competing retailer Men's Warehouse's
55-a-share takeover bid as "significantly" undervaluing the company.
      In Brief
      -- Carlyle Group is in talks to buy the blood-testing unit of Johnson &
Johnson for $4 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.
      -- Textron will acquire Beechcraft for $1.4 billion.
      She Said:
      "Growth is picking up . . . unemployment is going down . . . which brings
us to raising our forecast."
      International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, on the
U.S. economy
      The Numbers
      Last-minute holiday shopping didn't provide much joy for retailers, as
retail sales and in-store traffic decreased last week from a year earlier,
reported ShopperTrak
      -- 3.1%: the decrease in in-store retail sales from same week last year.
      -- 21.2%: the drop in retail brick-and-mortar shopper traffic.
      -- 0.7%: the decrease in retail sales on "Super Saturday," which was Dec.
      -- 18.1%: the drop in store traffic on Super Saturday.
      This Week


January                                                    Data for

1  New Year's Day
2  Construction Expenditures (10 a.m.)                     November
   ISM Mfg. Report on Business (10 a.m.)                   December
3  ECRI Weekly Leading Index (10:30 a.m.)
   Car Sales                                               December
6  ISM Non-Mfg. Report on Business (10 a.m.)               December
   Factory Orders (10 a.m.)                                November
7  ICSC/GS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot (7:45 a.m.)
   International Trade (8:30 a.m.)                         November
8  ADP National Employment Report (8:15 a.m.)              December
   Consumer Credit (3 p.m.)                                November
   Minutes of Dec. 17-18 FOMC Meeting (2 p.m.)
9  Chain-Store Sales                                       December
   Job Cuts (Challenger, Gray & Christmas) (7:30 a.m.)     December
10 Employment Report (8:30 a.m.)                           December
   ECRI Future Inflation Gauge (9:40 a.m.)                 December
   ECRI Weekly Leading Index (10:30 a.m.)
   Wholesale Trade (10 a.m.)                               November
13 Federal Budget (2 p.m.)                                 December
14 ICSC/GS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot (7:45 a.m.)
   Retail Sales (8:30 a.m.)                                December
   Manufacturing/Trade Inventories and Sales (10 a.m.)     November
   Import and Export Prices (8:30 a.m.)                    December
15 Beige Book (Fed. Economic Conditions Summary) (2 p.m.)
   Producer Price Index (8:30 a.m.)                        December
   NY FRB Manufacturing Survey (8:30 a.m.)                 January
16 Consumer Price Index (8:30 a.m.)                        December
   Housing Market Index (NAHB/Wells Fargo) (10 a.m.)       January
   Real Earnings (Average Hourly Wages) (8:30 a.m.)        December
   BuildFax Remodeling Index (8 a.m.)                      December
   Treasury International Capital Data (9 a.m.)            November
   Philadelphia FRB Business Outlook Survey (10 a.m.)      January
17 ECRI Weekly Leading Index (10:30 a.m.)
   Housing Starts and Building Permits (8:30 a.m.)         December
   Industrial Production/Capacity Utilization (9:15 a.m.)  December
20 Martin Luther King Jr. Day
22 ICSC/GS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot (7:45 a.m.)
23 Leading Indicator Index (Conference Board) (10 a.m.)    December
   Existing Home Sales (NAR) (10 a.m.)                     December
   FHFA House Price Index (9 a.m.)                         November
24 ECRI Weekly Leading Index (10:30 a.m.)
27 New Single-Family Home Sales (10 a.m.)                  December
   Equipment Leasing and Finance Index (10 a.m.)           December
28 ICSC/GS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot (7:45 a.m.)
   Durable Goods Shipments and Orders (8:30 a.m.)          December
   Consumer Confidence (Conference Board) (10 a.m.)        January
   S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (9 a.m.)            November
   Federal Open Market Committee Meeting (Also Jan. 29)
30 Gross Domestic Product (Advance) (8:30 a.m.)            4th Qtr. '13
   Pending Home Sales Index (NAR) (10 a.m.)                December
   Mutual-Fund Sales and Redemptions                       December
31 ECRI Weekly Leading Index (10:30 a.m.)
   Personal Income and Outlays (8:30 a.m.)                 December
   Chicago Purchasing Managers' Report (9:45 a.m.)         January
   Dow Jones Economic Sentiment Indicator (9:45 a.m.)      January
   Employment Cost Index (8:30 a.m.)                       4th Qtr. '13
   Housing Vacancies (10 a.m.)                             4th Qtr. '13

Note: Some dates and times are approximations.

           Coming U.S. Auctions

                            YIELDS (%)
Day                     When        Last
                        Issued*     Auction

$20.0 bil   1-month     0.000       0.005
$30.0 bil   3-month     0.066       0.070
$26.0 bil   6-month     0.091       0.090

* As of Friday afternoon.

      Americans and the Bubbly
      The Sparkling Hedge
      With New Year's upon us, American effervescence has returned, though it
appears to be hedged. While Champagne sales are struggling, Americans are
guzzling less-expensive bubbly like there's no tomorrow.

  In 2012, global Champagne shipments staggered 4%, according to the Comite
Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne. Europe (not including France) saw a 7%
decline in imports, and Britain, the world champion of Champagne quaffing,
posted a 6% drop. Even France imbibed less of its prized elixir. As for the
U.S., Champagne imports thudded 9%, to 17.7 million bottles.
      Sam Heitner, director of Champagne Brands USA, extracts some cheer from a
Champagne recession. "Champagne has been focused on growing the U.S. market for
a long time, and the investment and time are paying off," he insists.
      While U.S. Champagne imports are running below their 2006 peak, sales have
reboundedmore robustly than in Europe. The number of bottles exported to the
U.S. has popped 41% since 2009. In a recent release, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis
Vuitton noted that demand for Champagne was particularly strong in both the U.S.
and Asia.
      Americans who love their bubbles but not premium prices are exploring
alternatives: Sparkling-wine sales in the U.S. are at an all-time high, fueled
by less-expensive Italian spumantes, Spanish cavas, and domestic sparkling
wines. All of them are up, and particularly spumantes, which include proseccos.
In an era of fizzy markets, that may make the most sense of all.
      -- M.V.
      Week's Highlight
      Tuesday 31 Swiss Banks face a U.S. Department of Justice deadline for
revealing hidden American assets.
      Monday 30
      -- Pending existing home sales are expected to rise by 1%.
      -- Korea reports industrial-production data for November.
      -- The Tokyo Stock Exchange holds its final session of the year. The
exchange is shuttered for the rest of the week.
      Tuesday 31
      -- It's New Year's Eve and the end of the fourth quarter. Many global
markets are closed, including Germany, China, and Brazil. The U.S. bond market
closes early.
      -- Chicago PMI is expected to decline to a still-strong 61 from a prior
      -- October S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indices are expected to keep
      -- December Consumer Confidence Index is expected to rise to 76, up from
70.4 in November.
      Wednesday 1
      -- Markets around the globe are closed in observance of New Year's Day.
      -- Bill de Blasio is inaugurated as the 109th mayor of New York City; he
is the first Democrat to hold that office since David Dinkins completed his
single term in 1993.
      -- Latvia becomes the 18th country to adopt the euro.
      -- Greece assumes the European Union presidency from Lithuania.
      -- Russia takes over the G-8 presidency from the United Kingdom.
      -- The Annual NHL Winter Classic pits the Detroit Red Wings against the
Toronto Maple Leafs in an outdoor contest in front of more than 107,000 fans at
Michigan Stadium.
      -- China reports manufacturing in its Purchasing Managers Index data.
      -- The Swedish city of Umea becomes the European Cultural Capital of 2014,
taking over the role from Marseille.
      -- Laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana go into effect in
Colorado and Washington.
      Thursday 2
      -- The December ISM Manufacturing Index is expected to decline slightly
from a previous 57.3. November construction spending is expected to notch up
      -- Weekly jobless-claims numbers released.
      Friday 3
      -- Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser speaks about transitioning
from a low interest-rate environment at the American Economic Association annual
meeting in Philadelphia. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke also speaks at the event.
      -- December light-vehicle sales should fall to a 16 million-unit yearly
pace, down from 16.3 million reported in November.
      -- Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks on the economic outlook at
the Maryland Bankers Association in Baltimore.
      -- In Detroit, a judge considers a $165 million deal between the city's
pension funds and banks in bankruptcy court.
      -- The release of previously secret U.K. government files from 1984 will
offer insight into Margaret Thatcher's handling of issues, including the miners'
strike and strife in Northern Ireland.
      Saturday 4
      -- New York Fed President William Dudley speaks on a panel at the AEA
annual meeting in Philadelphia, along with Minneapolis Fed President Narayana
Kocherlakota and Philadelphia's Plosser.

                      Coming Earnings

 Day                    Quarter  Consensus   Year   Ticker
                                  Estimate    Ago
Progress Software         4Q       $0.41    $0.23    PRGS
Cal Maine Foods           2Q        1.05     0.60    CALM
Sonic                     1Q        0.13     0.11    SONC
Resources Connect'n       2Q        0.15     0.15    RECN
Lindsay                   1Q        0.91     1.15    LNN

(Earnings are diluted and report dates are tentative. All forecasts
and historical numbers exclude extraordinary items by accounting definitions.)

                     Consensus Estimate
Day   Time

                                                 Consesus Est  Last Period

T    9:45   December Chicago PMI                   61.0         63.4
    10:00   December Consumer Confidence           76.0         70.4
Th  10:00   November Construction Spending          0.6%         0.8%
    10:00   December ISM Manufacturing             56.7         57.3

Unless otherwise indicated, times are Eastern. a-Advanced; f-Final; p-


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