Seven years after the end of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy continues to lead the developed world. Gross domestic product in the U.S. has been rising only about 2% annually (compared with a more normal 3%), but the economies of most other major nations are at or just above stall speed.
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Will we ever get back to normal global growth? Probably, given time, but a return to the good old days is still a ways in the future.
Meantime, efforts by central bankers to light a fire under the global economy have pushed down bond yields to ridiculously low levels. Until growth picks up, those yields should stay artificially low. Citing concerns over sluggish employment growth, the Federal Reserve once again opted to leave rates unchanged at its just-concluded June meeting.
Best Defense Companies To Invest In Right Now: 1-800 FLOWERS.COM Inc.(FLWS)
1-800-Flowers.com, Inc. together with its subsidiaries, operates as a florist and gift retailer in the United States. The company offers a range of products, including fresh-cut flowers, floral arrangements and plants, gifts, popcorn, gourmet foods and gift baskets, cookies, chocolates, candy, and wine through its telephonic and online sales channels, company-owned and operated retail floral stores, and franchised stores. It provides gourmet gifts, such as popcorn and specialty treats through thepopcornfactory.com; cookies and baked gifts through cheryls.com; chocolates and confections through fanniemay.com and harrylondon.com; gift baskets and towers through 1800baskets.com; Celebrations brand party ideas and planning tips through celebrations.com; and customizable invitations, announcements, and greeting cards through finestationery.com. As of July 3, 2011, the company operated 2 floral retail stores, 1 fulfillment center, and approximately 100 franchised stores located within the United States. It has strategic online relationships with Facebook, Google, AOL, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. The company was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Carle Place, New York.
- [By Wayne Duggan]
U.S. retailers performed poorly during the Christmas holiday season, but companies in the Valentine’s Day business are hoping that Americans will spend generously in the name of love this year. These names include flower delivery company 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc (NASDAQ: FLWS), L Brands Inc (NYSE: LB) (owner of both Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works), Church & Dwight Co., Inc. (NYSE: CHD) (owner of Trojan brand condoms), candy giant Hershey Co (NYSE: HSY) and luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF).
Best Defense Companies To Invest In Right Now: Actuant Corporation(ATU)
Actuant Corporation, incorporated on October 26, 1910, designs, manufactures and distributes a range of industrial products and systems to various end markets. The Company operates through three segments: Industrial, Energy and Engineered Solutions. The Company’s Industrial segment is primarily involved in the design, manufacture and distribution of branded hydraulic and mechanical tools to the maintenance, industrial, infrastructure and production automation markets. The Company’s Energy segment provides joint integrity products and services, customized offshore vessel mooring solutions, as well as rope and cable solutions to the global oil and gas, power generation and other energy markets. The Company’s Engineered Solutions segment provides engineered position and motion control systems to original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in various on and off-highway vehicle markets, as well as various other products to the industrial and agricultural markets.
The Company’s Industrial segment is a global supplier of hydraulic and mechanical tools to a range of end markets, including general maintenance and repair, industrial, oil and gas, mining, infrastructure and production automation. The Company’s primary products include high-force hydraulic tools, engineered heavy lifting solutions, workholding (production automation) solutions, and concrete stressing components and systems. Its high-force hydraulic and mechanical tools, including cylinders, pumps, valves, specialty tools and presses are designed to allow users to apply controlled force and motion. The hydraulic tools operate at high pressures of approximately 5,000 to 12,000 pounds per square inch and are generally sold by industrial and specialty fluid power distributors to customers in the infrastructure, mining, steel mill, cement, rail, oil and gas, power generation and general maintenance industries. In addition to providing a line of industrial tools , the segment also provides high-force hydraulic systems (in! tegrated solutions).
The Company’s integrated solutions standard product offering also includes hydraulic gantries, strand jacks and synchronous lift systems. The Industrial segment offers a range of workholding products (work supports, swing cylinders and system components) that are marketed through distributors to the automotive, machine tool and fixture design markets. In addition, the Industrial segment designs, manufactures and distributes concrete tensioning products (chucks and wedges, stressing jacks and anchors), which are used by concrete tensioning system designers, fabricators and installers for the residential and commercial construction, bridge, infrastructure and mining markets.
The Company’s Energy segment provides products and services to the global energy markets. The Company’s products include joint integrity tools and connectors for oil and gas and power generation installations and high performance ropes, cab les and umbilicals. In addition to these products, the Energy segment also provides mooring systems and joint integrity tools under rental arrangements, as well as technical manpower solutions. The products and services of the Energy segment are distributed and marketed under various brand names (principally Hydratight, Cortland and Viking SeaTech) to OEMs, maintenance and service organizations and energy producers in emerging and developed countries. Its joint integrity products include hydraulic torque wrenches, bolt tensioners, portable machining equipment and subsea connectors, which are either sold or rented to asset owners, service providers and end users. These products are used in the maintenance of bolted joints on oil rigs and platforms, wind turbines, refineries and pipelines, petrochemical installations, as well as fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. Its Hydratight business provides manpower services where its trained technicians perform bolting, machining and joint integrity work for customers. The Company delivers pro! ducts and! services through a localized infrastructure of rental and maintenance depots.
The Company’s Energy segment develops highly-engineered rope, umbilical and cable solutions to various markets, including oil and gas, heavy marine, subsea, remote operating vehicle (ROV) and seismic. With its global design and manufacturing capabilities, the Cortland business provides customized synthetic ropes, heavy lift slings, specialized mooring, rigging and towing systems, electro-optical-mechanical cables and umbilicals. These products are utilized in applications, often deployed in harsh operating conditions (subsea oil and gas production, maintenance and exploration). In addition, the Energy segment provides customers with a range of marine mooring equipment and associated services (survey, inspection, design and installation). Its Viking business delivers mooring solutions in the harshest environments to customers involved in offshore oil and gas exploration, offshore const ruction and renewable energy projects.
The Company’s Engineered Solutions segment designs and assembles customized position and motion control systems and other industrial products to various vehicle and other markets. The Engineered Solutions segment focuses on providing technical and highly engineered products, including actuation systems, mechanical power transmission products, engine air flow management systems, human to machine interface (HMI) solutions and other rugged electronic instrumentation. Products in the Engineered Solutions segment are primarily marketed directly to OEMs through a technical sales organization. The Company’s diesel engine air flow solutions, such as exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems and air flow actuators, are used by diesel engine and turbocharger manufacturers. It also sells actuation systems to a range of specialty vehicle customers, principally in the defense and off-highway markets. Its products include severe-duty electronic instrumentation, suc! h as disp! lays and clusters, machine controls and sensors, and HMI solutions and power transmission products, such as drive shafts, torque limiters, gearboxes, torsional dampers and flexible shafts. These products are sold to a range of markets, including agricultural implement, lawn and turf, construction, forestry, industrial, aerospace, material handling and security.
- [By Monica Gerson]
Actuant Corporation (NYSE: ATU) is projected to report its quarterly earnings at $0.18 per share on revenue of $267.64 million. Actuant shares dropped 3.73 percent to close at $22.98 yesterday.
Hot Defensive Stocks To Invest In Right Now: BlackRock, Inc.(BLK)
BlackRock, Inc. is a publicly owned investment manager. The firm primarily provides its services to institutional, intermediary, and individual investors. It also manages accounts for corporate, public, union and industry pension plans, insurance companies, third-party mutual funds, endowments, foundations, charities, corporations, official institutions, and banks. The firm also provides global risk management and advisory services. It manages separate client-focused equity, fixed income, and balanced portfolios. The firm also launches and manages open-end and closed-end mutual funds, offshore funds, ETFs, unit trusts, and alternative investment vehicles including hedge funds and structured funds. It invests in the public equity, fixed income, real estate, and alternative markets across the globe. The firm primarily invests in growth, value, and core stocks of small-cap, mid-cap, SMID-cap, large-cap and multi-cap companies. It employs a fundamental and quantitative analysis with a bottom-up stock picking approach to make its investments. The firm employs liquidity, asset allocation, balanced, real estate, and alternative strategies to make its investments. In real estate sector, the firm seeks to invest in Poland and Germany. BlackRock, Inc. was founded in 1988 and is based in New York City with additional offices in Boston, Massachusetts, London, United Kingdom, Brazil, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Plainsboro, New Jersey, and San Francisco, California.
- [By Tom Aspray, Senior Editor, MoneyShow.com]
Some of the emerging market ETFs are already up 7%, so far, this month, as it seems like others are drawing the same conclusions. Robert Kapito, co-founder of BackRock, Inc. (BLK), which has assets of $3.9 trillion, said that “The emerging markets are going to account for about 60 to 65% of the world’s growth over the next 20 years.”
- [By Shauna O’Brien]
UBS announced on Wednesday that it has cut its rating on investment management firm BlackRock, Inc. (BLK).
The firm has downgraded BlackRock from “Buy” to “Neutral” due to expenses, which are putting pressure on margins. UBS also lowered its price target on BLK to $280, which suggests a 5% upside from the stock’s current price of $266.51.
BlackRock shares were down $2.51, or 0.94%, during pre-market trading Wednesday. The stock is up 29% YTD.
Best Defense Companies To Invest In Right Now: Mastercard Incorporated(MA)
MasterCard Incorporated, together with its subsidiaries, provides transaction processing and related services to customers principally in support of their credit, deposit access, electronic cash and automated teller machine payment card programs, and travelers? cheque programs. Its payment solutions include payment programs, marketing, product development, technology, processing, and consulting and information services. The company provides transaction processing services comprising transaction switching, which include authorization, clearing, and settlement; connectivity services, such as network access, equipment, and the transmission of authorization and settlement messages; and other payment-related services consisting of products used to prevent or detect fraudulent transactions, cardholder services, professional consulting and research services, compliance and penalty, account and transaction enhancement services, holograms, and publication services. MasterCard Incor porated manages and licenses payment card brands, including MasterCard, MasterCard Electronic, Maestro, and Cirrus. The company?s payment programs, which are facilitated through its brands, include consumer credit, debit and prepaid programs, commercial payment solutions, and contactless payment solutions. It serves approximately 22,000 financial institutions. The company was founded in 1966 and is headquartered in Purchase, New York.
- [By Alex Planes]
It was from these humble beginnings that Visa (NYSE: V ) was born. BankAmericard became an independent corporation in 1970 and later changed its name to Visa in 1976 as a way to broaden its appeal internationally. By this point the Master Charge had been established as a competing credit card network, and it had actually grown larger than the former BankAmericard: In the first quarter of 1976, BankAmericard/Visa claimed 31.8 million cardholders and $2.3 billion in sales volume, while the Master Charge had 37.4 million cardholders and processed $2.9 billion in sales. Master Charge, of course, is the forerunner to MasterCard (NYSE: MA ) , but it hasn’t maintained its early lead over Visa. In 2012, Visa’s total U.S. purchase volume clocked in at $981 billion compared to $534 billion for MasterCard, and Visa’s 278 million American cardholders far outweigh MasterCard’s 180 million American cardholders.
- [By Michael Flannelly]
Following a positive investor day from MasterCard Inc (MA), analysts at FBR Capital boosted their price target and earnings estimates on the credit card company.
The analysts reiterated an “Outperform” rating on MA, but now see shares reaching $690, up from the previous target of $640. This new price target suggests a 5% upside to the stock’s Wednesday closing price of $658.46. The firm also boosted MasterCard’s fiscal 2014 EPS estimates from $30.60 to $31.13 due to higher revenues and a lower projected tax rate.
An FBR Capital analyst commented, “At yesterday’s investor day, management reiterated FY13-FY15 guidance (while guidance has always been back-end loaded [higher EPS and net revenue growth in the latter years], management commented that early performance has been better than expected), highlighted plans targeting global unbanked and underbanked consumers, discussed initiatives to strengthen merchant relationships via analytical products designed to help merchants, and alluded to additional M&A opportunities.”
MasterCard shares were inactive during pre-market trading on Thursday. The stock is up 34.03% year-to-date.
Best Defense Companies To Invest In Right Now: MercadoLibre Inc.(MELI)
MercadoLibre, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, hosts online commerce and payments platforms in Latin America. Its services are designed to provide its users with mechanisms to buy, sell, pay for, and collect on e-commerce transactions. The company principally offers MercadoLibre marketplace, an automated online commerce service, which permits businesses and individuals to list items and conduct their sales and purchases online in a fixed-price or auction-based format. Its MercadoLibre marketplace enables registered users to list and purchase motor vehicles, vessels, aircraft, real estate, and other services through online classified listings; and Internet users to browse through various products and services that are listed on its Website and to register with MercadoLibre to list, bid for, and purchase items and services. The company also provides MercadoPago, an integrated online payments solution to facilitate transactions on and off the MercadoLibre marketplace by providing a mechanism that allows its users to send and receive payments online. In addition, it offers MercadoClics advertising program that allows businesses to promote their products and services on the Internet. This program enables users and advertisers to place, display, and/or text advertisements on its Web pages to promote their brands and offerings. Further, the company provides MercadoShops on-line stores solution, a software-as-a-service, which allows users to set-up, manage, and promote their own on-line Webstores. As of December 31, 2010, the company operated online commerce platforms directed towards Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela; online payments solutions directed towards Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, and Colombia; and a real estate classified platform that covers various areas in Florida. The company was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- [By Scott Rubin]
Stock gainers included Mercadolibre Inc (NASDAQ: MELI), up almost 14 percent, and Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: NUS), which added 12 percent. The positive gains in both stocks were due to strong earnings reports. Shares of Liberty Interactive Group (NASDAQ: QVCA) plunged almost 22 percent on Friday due to disappointing sales growth in its fiscal second quarter. Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) lost 16 percent after a disappointing study involving its Opdivo drug.
- [By Roberto Pedone]
Mercadolibre (MELI) operates an online trading site for the Latin American markets. This stock closed up 7.1% at $128.50 in Monday’s trading session.
Monday’s Volume: 814,000
Three-Month Average Volume: 479,008
Volume % Change: 69%
From a technical perspective, MELI ripped higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $117.07 with above-average volume. This move pushed shares of MELI into breakout territory, since the stock took out some near-term overhead resistance at $125.30. Shares of MELI are now quickly moving within range of triggering another big breakout trade. That trade will hit if MELI manages to take out some more near-term overhead resistance at $130.74 with high volume.
Traders should now look for long-biased trades in MELI as long as it’s trending above $125 or $124 and then once it sustains a move or close above $130.74 with volume that’s near or above 479,008 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then MELI will set up to re-test or possibly take out its 52-week high at $136.52.