The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is sinking today, but don’t blame it on Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) this time. The troubled computing do-it-all leads the Dow with a 4.1% gain as of 1:45 p.m. EDT. The second-best-performing Dow stock today is Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) with a measly 0.4% jump fueled by the settlement of a high-profile patent suit that will add $2.15 billion to Pfizer’s coffers.
If the market gives Pfizer a collective shrug for that legal win, then what does it take to drive HP’s market cap as much as $2.4 billion higher today? A few cheerful words from the CEO’s lips, backed by an unexpected product launch.
CEO Meg Whitman sat down for a long interview with CNBC this week, and the first clip was published last night. In it, Whitman concedes that there’s still “a lot of heavy lifting to do” before HP’s long-suffering turnaround can be considered complete. But she also said that the recovery is tracking ahead of the basic five-year plan and that HP is adapting to the demands of a new era in personal and enterprise computing.
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company(PHI)
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company provides telecommunication services in the Philippines. Its Wireless segment offers cellular mobile services; Internet broadband distribution and services; call center services; mobile applications development and services; software development and sale of maintenance and support services; mobile commerce solutions; mobile commerce platforms; mobile applications development and services; solutions and systems integration services; satellite communications services; and satellite information and messaging services. This segment also involves in the promotion of the sale and/or patronage of debit and/or charge cards; offshore financing and risk management activities for smart; international trade of satellites and global system for mobile communication, or GSM enabled global telecommunications; and delivery of GSM communication capability for the maritime sector, as well as operates as a content provider. The company?s Fixed Line s egment provides fixed line telecommunication services, such as local exchange, international long distance, national long distance, data and other network services, as well as infrastructure and related services. Its Information and Communications Technology segment offers integrated information and communications technology services focusing on infrastructure and solutions for Internet applications, Internet protocol based solutions, and multimedia content delivery. This segment also provides knowledge processing solutions, customer relationship management, Internet and online gaming services, and information technology consulting and professional services; and operates Internet data center under the Vitro brand name. As of December 31, 2010, the company had served approximately 49 million subscribers. It also resells software licenses, server solutions, networking products, storage products, and data security products. The company was founded in 1928 and is based in Makati City, the Philippines.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
The mixed signals were apparent even among the S&P 500′s best performing stocks, including Exelon (EXC), a utility that’s nearing completion of a merger with Pepco Holdings (PHI), and Priceline (PCLN), a high-flying internet stock that rose, well, because it could. Exelon gained 7.9% to $36.83 this week, while Priceline rose 6.8% to $1,278.63.
- [By Jonathan Yates]
The economy is also expected to recover quickly from the storm’s devastation, making Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (NYSE: PHI) more attractive to long-term investors than other communications firms such as BCE (NYSE: BCE), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ).
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: American Homes 4 Rent (AMH)
American Homes 4 Rent, incorporated on October 19, 2012, is an internally managed Maryland real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company is focused on acquiring, renovating, leasing and operating single-family homes as rental properties.
As of September 30, 2013, the Company owned 21,267 properties in desirable markets in 22 states including Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio ; Raleigh, North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Houston, Texas , Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee ; Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas , and Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to single-family properties, the Company also focuses to invest in condominium units, townhouses and real estate-related debt investments.
- [By Will Ashworth]
PSA fills a need that’s not likely to disappear. In the latest fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2013, PSA generated core funds from operations of $7.44 — 11.4% higher than in 2012. Same-store rental income increased 5.4% year-over-year due to higher rents and higher occupancies. It’s a winning combination that over time has proved successful. Although it’s only yielding 3.3% at the moment, it’s a very stable stock, having seen a negative return just once in the past decade. I like its odds.
Pure-Play REITs: American Homes 4 Rent (AMH)
This is the brand child of Public Storage founder Wayne Hughes, who started the company in 2011 to take advantage of falling prices in the single-family home market. Private equity firms such as Blackstone Group (BX), Hughes and others have been actively buying up houses on the cheap with plans to rent them out until prices rise to the point where they’re no longer worth holding on to. As a result of this intense competition, prices have risen faster than anticipated — slowing the number of home purchases made by institutional investors.
- [By Matt Koppenheffer and David Hanson]
In this segment of The Motley Fool’s financials-focused show, Where the Money Is, analysts Matt Koppenheffer and David Hanson discuss some of their favorite tweets of the day. Among the companies covered are Silver Bay (NYSE: SBY ) , American Homes 4 Rent (NYSE: AMH ) , and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) .
- [By Mark Holder]
After an initial bump in Silver Bay, the stock has had a horrible 2013, now trading close to all-time lows. Recently, a couple of other IPOs in the sector have come to market with weak receptions. Both American Homes 4 Rent (NYSE: AMH ) and American Residential Properties (NYSE: ARPI ) offer different twists to the general thesis of investing in single-family rental properties to take advantage of the weakness in housing prices and the increased demand for rentals.
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: K12 Inc (LRN)
K12 Inc. (K12), incorporated in December 1999, is a technology-based education company. K12 offers curriculum, software systems and educational services designed to facilitate individualized learning for students primarily in kindergarten through 12th grade, or K-12. The Company provides a continuum of technology-based educational products and solutions to districts, public schools, private schools, charter schools and families. Its products include Curriculum, Pre-K and K-8 Courses, Online School Platform-Learning Management System, High School Courses, Innovative Learning Applications, School Management Systems and PEAK12. Its managed public schools includes Full-time virtual schools and Blended schools, which includes Flex schools, Passport schools, Discovery schools and Other blended schools. Its institutional Business includes K12 curriculum, Aventa curriculum, A+ curriculum, Middlebury joint venture, Pre-kindergarten and Post-secondary. Its international and private pay business includes Managed private schools, The Keystone School, George Washington University Online HS, K12 International Academy, IS Berne, WEB and Independent course sales (Consumer). In April 2011, it acquired the operations of the International School of Berne (IS Berne).
K12 has the digital curriculum portfolio for the K-12 online education industry. The K12 curriculum consists of online lessons, offline instructional kits and materials, and lesson guides and other ancillaries. The Company offers a catalog of courses designed to teach concepts to students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as curriculum for use in post-secondary online programs. A single year-long K12 course generally consists of 120 to 180 instructional lessons. Each lesson is designed to last approximately 45 to 60 minutes, although students are able to work at their own pace. With the acquisition of the curriculum portfolios of KCDL (Aventa), AE C (A+) and Kaplan Virtual Education (KVE), as well as the MI! L joint venture, the Company has nearly 700 courses across kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school, including world languages. This combined portfolio contains over 100,000 hours of instructional content and over one million visual, audio and interactive instructional elements in the Company’s asset repository.
The Company’s K12 online lessons or curricula are accessed through a learning management platform, which the Company calls its Online School (OLS) for K- 8students and the eCollege platforms for high school students, as well as a number of other common industry platforms for students who access Aventa and A+ curricula. Many of the Company’s courses utilize learning kits in conjunction with the online lessons to maximize the effectiveness of its learning systems. In addition to receiving access to the Company’s online lessons through the Internet, each K-8 student receives a shipment of materials, including textbooks, art supplies, laboratory supp lies (such as microscopes, scales, science specimens) and other reference materials which are referred to and incorporated in instruction throughout its curriculum. The Company’s courses are generally paired with a lesson guide. Lesson guides work in coordination with the online lessons and include overview information for learning coaches, lesson objectives, lesson outlines and activities, answer keys to student exercises and suggestions for explaining difficult concepts to students.
Pre-K and K-8 Courses
From pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, the Company’s courses are generally categorized into seven major subject areas: English and language arts, mathematics, science, history, art, music and world languages. The Company’s curriculum includes all of the courses that students need to complete their core kindergarten through 8th grade education; a new pre-K offering students to core subjects through cross-curricular thematic units, building initia l and fundamental relationships among concepts. Its learning! systems ! offer the flexibility for each student to take courses at different grade levels in a single academic year, providing flexibility for students to progress at their own level and pace within each subject area.
The first phase of the Company’s K12 second generation elementary language arts program is designed to deliver interactivity and make instruction even more engaging while integrating rewards, interactive practice and a virtual world. The Company’s Fundamentals of Geometry and Algebra course completes its K-8 math offering. These courses support students at various skill levels through targeted, timely remediation, embody the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and include media integration. In addition, the flexibility of the Company’s learning systems allows the Company to tailor its curriculum to state specific requirements. For example, the Company has developed 62 courses specifically created for the public schools standards in 13 states. In addition to the ongoing evolution of the Company’s K-5 Math+ program, the Company has also created over 80 custom Math+ sequences to serve specific state needs. The Company continues to migrate K12 K-8 courses from its legacy content management system (CMS) to its new CMS.
Online School Platform-Learning Management System
For the Company’s K12 curriculum users in grades K-8, the Company provides a learning management system, its OLS platform. The OLS platform is an adaptive, intuitive, Web-based software platform that provides access to the Company’s online lessons, its lesson planning and scheduling tools, as well as its progress tracking tool which serves a key role in assisting parents and teachers in managing each student’s progress. The OLS is also the central structure through which students, parents, teachers and administrators interact using K-mail and Class Connect (the Company’s integrated synchronous session scheduler). Students, parents and teachers can access the Company’s online tools and lessons through t! he OLS fr! om anywhere with an Internet connection. The Company licenses a third-party learning management system for uses in its high school program.
High School Courses
The curriculum available to high school students is broader and varies from student to student. Students also are able to select from a range of electives. The Company has augmented its lab program for lab science courses with the creation of alternate kit-free science labs for the formerly kit-based high school science labs in order to provide a more flexible and robust lab program across its physical science, earth science, biology, chemistry and physics courses. The Company’s overall lab program includes traditional kit-based labs based on either shipped-in or household materials, virtual labs, video-based labs, data-collection and data-manipulation labs, and field studies. Across all subject areas, the K12 core curriculum accounts for approximately 90% of the Company’s high school course enrollments. It also offers curriculum marketed as its Aventa Learning by K12 product line. Aventa courses are written to national academic standards and each of Aventa’s 22 AP courses has been reviewed and approved by The College Board. Aventa’s online courses are developed by subject matter experts designed by multimedia teams and delivered by high school instructors. Aventa classes are primarily delivered over the Internet and use a variety of interactive elements to keep students engaged throughout.
The Company has A+ courseware, which is in use in over 5,000 public and private K-12 schools, charter schools, colleges, correctional institutions, centers of adult literacy, military education programs and after-school learning centers. The A+nyWhere Learning System provides an integrated offering of instructional software and assessment for reading, mathematics, language arts, science, writing, history, government, economics and geography for grade levels K-12 . In addition, AEC provides assessment testing and instructi! onal cont! ent for the General Educational Development (GED) test. AEC products are designed to provide for LAN, WAN and Internet delivery options and support Windows and Macintosh platforms. Spanish-language versions are available for mathematics and language arts for grade levels 1-6.
The Company offers online world language courses and summer immersion language instruction programs through its MIL joint venture. In addition to offering powerspeaK12 language courses, this venture also offers innovative, online language programs for high school and middle school students based on the Middlebury College pedagogy. The new courses use instructional tools such as animation, music, videos and other elements that immerse students in new languages. Beginner French, Chinese and Spanish for high school students, as well as Chinese, French, Latin, Spanish and German courses for middle and high school students are available and additional courses are in development. The joint ventur e has expanded the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy (MMLA), a foreign language immersion summer program for middle and high school students, which includes a day academy for middle school students, as well as the Company’s four-week residential academy with instruction in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish at multiple college campuses.
Innovative Learning Applications
The Company has created tools that allow for more rapid mobile and tablet curriculum or content deployment across platforms for deeper markets penetration. Seven additional mobile applications were delivered during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012 (fiscal 2012), for a total of 15 applications available for download. These apps have been downloaded over 400,000 times. It offers applications for the iPhone, Android phones and Android tablet marketplaces, adapting many of its curriculum features for the mobile application space. An active educational games initiat ive is delivering new methods for engagement, practice and r! eview of ! K-12 concepts, including narrative/immersive styles, rewards, persistent data, complex algorithms. The Company has delivered a total of nine interactive games and an innovative review and practices portal called Noodleverse. Noodleverse includes over 1,700 activities and is designed for K-2 students in conjunction with a new language arts program.
The Company has delivered alternatives for its educational partners who desires materials-free curriculum. This includes converting over 59 existing materials-based high school Science labs into interactive virtual labs and video lab This laboratory is performed at a lab bench with all the materials and with the same procedures high school students would use in a physical chemistry laboratory. During fiscal 2012, the Company had converted 35 K12 textbooks used across 57 courses into an electronic format, including textbooks, reference guides, literature readers and lab manuals. This digital delivery ability enables th e Company to offer options to the Company’s customers through interactive online books that enhance the student’s reading experience reinforce the student’s learning approach and create a new method for delivering book and print materials. Each offline book is converted into an electronic book format with a custom user interface to be viewed through a standard Web browser or a commercially available electronic reader (Kindle and Nook).
The Company has learning management systems and can build courses that are adaptive, which enable individualized learning experiences as the course adapts at key points to student behavior and input. The Company’s MARK12 reading remediation product captures individual students’ successes and challenges as they practice phonemic awareness, alphabetic principles, accuracy and fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The program serves the individual student more exercises, practice and review in areas of difficulty. During fiscal 201 2, the Company launched a pilot program for school year call! ed Nation! al Math Lab, designed as a controlled study with randomly selected treatment and control groups from a pool of students in grades 5-10 identified as significantly below grade level in math. The Company continues to explore opportunities to enhance student engagement through strategic use of relevant multimedia. Multimedia is specifically used as appropriate for the subject matter.
School Management Systems
School Management Systems (SAMS) is the Company’s student information system. SAMS is integrated with the OLS and several other systems, including the Company’s Online Enrollment System that allows parents to complete school enrollment forms online and its order management system that generates orders for learning kits and computers to be delivered to students. SAMS stores student-specific data and is used for a range of functions, including enrolling students in courses, assigning progress marks and grades, tracking student demographic data, and generating student transcripts. The Company has TotalView a range of online applications that provides administrators, teachers, parents and students a unified view of student progress, attendance, communications, and learning kit shipment tracking. TotalView includes a means of documenting student engagement in required classroom activities, identification of those students struggling with grade level state content standards, and previous year’s performance on state tests. TotalView also includes K-mail, the Company’s internal communications system. Through K-mail, administrators and teachers can communicate electronically with learning coaches and students. TotalView also includes an enrollment processing and tracking tool that allows it to closely monitor and manage the enrollment process for new students.
The Company has an online learning solution called PEAK12. This solution simplifies a district’s management of online learning by con solidating multiple solutions on a single platform. It allow! s adminis! trators and teachers to manage enrollments, programs and performance tracking, alerts and reporting across multiple online solutions from a single solution. In addition, through the PEAK12 library, districts can search, build, provision and publish content or course modifications or new course solutions using various online learning assets. PEAK12 provides unparalleled capabilities for districts wanting to operate multiple solutions or catalogs from a single place and offers personalization features that can be managed at the district, school or teacher level.
The Company competes with DeVry, Inc., Pearson PLC, White Hat Management, LLC, National Network of Digital Schools Management Foundation Inc., Apex Learning Inc., Compass Learning, E2020 Inc., OdysseyWare, PLATO Learning, Inc., Rosetta Stone Inc., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson PLC., The Laurel Springs School, the National Connections Academy and Florida Virtual School.
- [By Roberto Pedone]
One stock that’s starting to trend within range of triggering a major breakout trade is K12 (LRN), which offers proprietary curriculum and educational services created for online delivery to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. This stock has been a top target of the bears over the last three months, with shares down sharply by 43%.
If you take a look at the chart for K12, you’ll notice that this stock has been trending sideways for the last month, with shares moving between $19.47 on the downside and $21.62 on the upside. Shares of LRN have now just started to spike higher back above its 50-day moving average of $20.09 a share. That move is quickly pushing shares of K12 within range of triggering a major breakout trade above the upper-end of its recent sideways trading chart pattern.
Traders should now look for long-biased trades in LRN if it manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $20.77 to $21.17 a share, and then once it takes out more key overhead resistance at $21.62 a share with high volume. Look for a sustained move or close above those levels with volume that hits near or above its three-month average volume of 519,295 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then LRN will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone form October that started just above $28 a share. This stock could easily make a monster move if it breaks out into that gap with volume, just like CNDO did.
Traders can look to buy LRN off any weakness to anticipate that breakout and simply use a stop that sits right below some key near-term support levels at $19.47 or around $19 a share. One can also buy LRN off strength once it starts to take out those breakout levels with volume and then simply use a stop that sits a comfortable percentage from your entry point.
- [By Eric Volkman]
K12 (NYSE: LRN ) will soon have a new CFO. Harry Hawks has given notice that he will leave the position by the end of the company’s current fiscal year. He plans to continue to assist the firm during the succession period and beyond, working as a consultant, in order to smooth the transition to a new CFO.
- [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]
Bloomberg via Getty Images Companies can make brilliant moves, but there are also times when things don’t work out quite as planned. From an online educator getting schooled to a PC dinosaur showing signs of coming back to life, here’s a rundown of the week’s best and worst in the business world. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) — Winner PC sales continue to slide, but market leader HP is turning things around. Industry tracker IDC may have served up some grim metrics for the state of desktops and laptops — global PC shipments were down by nearly 8 percent, making this the sixth consecutive quarter of slipping sales — but IDC estimates that HP bucked the trend by shipping more computers than it did a year earlier. The trend is even better domestically. HP was already having a good week when CEO Meg Whitman explained why she felt her company was well-positioned to thrive in the future. The IDC report suggests that HP’s rosy future is now. K12 (LRN) — Loser Online learning has come under fire in recent years. Are the students engaged enough? Is the education effective? Are the cost savings worth the shortcomings of the virtual classroom? We still don’t have all of the answers, but we may be seeing enrollments peaking. Shares of K12 were slammed this week after the provider of Web-based curriculums for grade school students posted a disappointing outlook. K12 saws enrollments increased by a softer than expected 6 percent in its latest quarter. K12 also now sees revenue for the entire fiscal year that ends in June clocking in between $905 million and $925 million. Analysts were perched at $988 million. Ouch. That’s not a passing grade. Microsoft (MSFT) — Winner HP wasn’t the only winner in IDC’s review of the PC industry during the third quarter. Four of the five largest PC makers in this country saw their shipments increase. The lone holdout was Apple (AAPL) experiencing an 11 percent slide in Mac and MacBook sales during the period. That’s sweet news for Mic
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Corporate Executive Board Co (CEB)
Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB), incorporated on September 11, 1997, is an advisory company that equips senior executives and their teams with actionable solutions to drive corporate performance. The Company operates in two segments: SHL Group Holdings I and its subsidiaries (SHL) and CEB. The CEB segment includes its membership programs for senior executives and their teams to drive corporate performance by identifying and building on the practices of companies. The SHL segment provides cloud-based solutions for talent assessment and talent mobility, as well as professional services to support those solutions. Personnel Decisions Research Institutes, Inc. (PDRI) is included in the CEB segment. PDRI provides customized personnel assessment tools and services to various agencies of the United States government. In February 2012, it acquired Valtera, Inc. In August 2012, it acquired SHL Group Holdings I. In February 2014, Corporate Executive Board Co acquired Talent Neuron, a provider of market intelligence technology.
The Company delivers its products and services to a global customer base primarily through two relationship models: an annual, fixed-fee subscription for membership programs and engagement-based fees for assessment services, development curriculum, customized analytics reports, and best practice implementation. It spans more than 100 countries, 10,000 individual organizations, and 225,000 business professionals. Its membership programs deliver research and advisory services that align with executive leadership roles and enable members to focus efforts to address emerging and recurring business challenges.
The Company serves executives and professionals in corporate functions at corporate and middle market institutions in more than 100 countries. The corporate functions, which it considers its primary end market includes human resources, finance, legal and compliance, sales and marketing, and te chnology. It also serves operational leaders in the global f! inancial services industry and United Sates government. For both the financial services industry and the United States government, it delivers a product and service portfolio of practices, operational insights, analytical tools, and peer collaboration designed to drive executive decision making.
The Company helps senior executives and their teams drive corporate performance by equipping them with the actionable insights, analytic tools, and advisory support they need to improve performance. It sells a combination of resources to address business challenges, such as best practices and decision support, talent management and measurement, and management tools and solutions. It helps its members set direction for their team, function, and company by providing performance insights, benchmarks, and best practices. It also provides members with networking opportunities, including through online peer discussion groups, on-request advice, feedback, and other peer intera ction at both in-person and virtual events. It helps organizations select, engage, and align their organizational talent against corporate objectives. The Company’s assessment and development solutions help companies identify and manage talent investments. Its talent management and measurement products generally are implemented into pre-hire and post-hire assessments. The offerings include cognitive ability assessments, skills and/or knowledge assessments, personality questionnaires, and job/role simulations.
The Company helps organizations secure performance gains through consulting and technology. It delivers a suite of professional services, including best practice implementation, survey and diagnostic tools, and executive education. It offers targeted survey and diagnostic technology to aid executives in assessing the performance of their functions, processes, and teams. It provides additional implementation support to executives seeking to improve their f unctional performance. For executives seeking to enhance ski! ll develo! pment for themselves or their staff members, it delivers an executive education curriculum supported by e-learning resources. The curriculum may include skills diagnostic reports, learning portal access, classroom-based development sessions, Webinars, and virtual office hours with faculty.
- [By Seth Jayson]
Corporate Executive Board (NYSE: CEB ) reported earnings on May 1. Here are the numbers you need to know.
The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), Corporate Executive Board missed slightly on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.
- [By Rich Duprey]
Corporate advisory specialist Corporate Executive Board (NYSE: CEB ) announced yesterday its second-quarter dividend of $0.225 per share, the same rate it paid last quarter after it raised the payout 29% from $0.175 per share.
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Wells Fargo & Company(WFC)
Wells Fargo & Company, through its subsidiaries, provides retail, commercial, and corporate banking services primarily in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Community Banking; Wholesale Banking; and Wealth, Brokerage, and Retirement. The Community Banking segment offers deposits, including checking, market rate, and individual retirement accounts; savings and time deposits; and debit cards. Its loan products comprise lines of credit, auto floor plans, equity lines and loans, equipment and transportation loans, education loans, residential mortgage loans, health savings accounts, and credit cards. This segment also provides equipment leases, real estate financing, small business administration financing, venture capital financing, cash management, payroll services, retirement plans, loans secured by autos, and merchant payment processing services; purchases sales finance contracts from retail merchants; and a family of funds, and investment managemen t services. The Wholesale Banking segment offers commercial and corporate banking products and services, including commercial loans and lines of credit, letters of credit, asset-based lending, equipment leasing, international trade facilities, trade financing, collection services, foreign exchange services, treasury and investment management, institutional fixed-income sales, commodity and equity risk management, insurance, corporate trust fiduciary and agency services, and investment banking services. This segment also provides banking products for commercial real estate market, and real estate and mortgage brokerage services. The Wealth, Brokerage, and Retirement segment offers financial advisory, brokerage, and institutional retirement and trust services. As of December 31, 2010, the company served its customers through approximately 9,000 banking stores in 39 States and the District of Columbia. Wells Fargo & Company was founded in 1929 and is headquartered in San Franc i sco, California.
- [By Jesse Solomon]
Known as the Oracle of Omaha, Buffett is one of the most famous investors in the world. Berkshire’s annual shareholder meetings attract tens of thousands who want to see him in person. His top holdings as of the first quarter were Wells Fargo (WFC), Coca-Cola (KO), and American Express (AXP).
- [By WWW.DAILYFINANCE.COM]
AlamyCitizens Bank ranks the No. 1 financial institution among baby boomers. Each stage of life brings with it a unique set of challenges to overcome and benchmarks to hit — and this is especially true when it comes to banking. Although financial institutions target millennials heavily, baby boomers (Americans born between 1946 and 1964) are still the most represented generation among today’s banking customers. A December Gallup poll revealed that 89 percent of baby boomers have at least one checking, savings or money market account. With more than 75 million baby boomers in the United States, there’s a greater demand for financial institutions that cater to the boomer lifestyle. 3 Things Baby Boomers Need Most From Banks The youngest baby boomers have reached seniority in the labor force, while the oldest members of this generation have entered retirement. Both ends of the spectrum have vastly different circumstances when it comes to income, but no matter their age, boomers have three main banking needs. 1. Customer Service. Customer service comes in many forms, whether from an in-person associate at a brick-and-mortar branch or an attendant at a small kiosk in a local grocery store. Boomers have grown up with institutions that rely on real-life, person-to-person transactions that allow them to talk through terms and conditions and have questions addressed. Physical bank branches are necessary in order to fulfill this service expectation. As more financial institutions have turned to online and mobile banking, some baby boomers who are slow to adapt to banking technology have been isolated as a result. 2. Retirement Planning. With the average life span in the U.S. expanding each year, and so many baby boomers on the road to retirement, the need for retirement planning resources becomes more and more pressing for many banking customers. “In my experience, the most stressful situation that baby boomers encounter is the fear of running out of money d
- [By Raymond Merola]
While billionaire George Soros saw his Soros Fund Management LLC dumped positions in banking giants JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and CitiGroup (NYSE: C), Warren Buffett’s Bershire Hathaway Group continued to hold huge stakes in Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB).
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Liberte Investors Inc. (FAC)
First Acceptance Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in retailing, servicing, and underwriting non-standard personal automobile insurance and related products. Its primary business involves issuing automobile insurance policies to individuals who are categorized as non-standard based primarily on their inability or unwillingness to obtain insurance coverage from standard carriers due to various factors, including their payment history or need for monthly payment plans, and failure to maintain continuous insurance coverage or driving record. The company also offers optional products that provide ancillary reimbursements and benefits in the event of an automobile accident; and underwrites a tenant homeowner policy that provides contents and liability coverage to renters. In addition, it engages in activities related to the disposition of real estate held for sale. The company distributes its products through retail locations. As of March 31, 2012, it leased and op erated 378 retail locations. First Acceptance Corporation was founded in 1969 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
- [By John Udovich]
Auto sales continue to rise and that is good news for small cap auto insurers Infinity Property and Casualty Corp (NASDAQ: IPCC), First Acceptance Corporation (NYSE: FAC) and Atlas Financial Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: AFH) which are focused on niche auto insurance markets. A Yahoo! Autos blog post recently noted that in August, automakers sold 1.5 million new vehicles for the highest rate in years. Moreover, most industry forecasters expect sales to return to the level they hit before the 2008 recession of 16 million vehicles a year. The blog post then went on to note the three forces driving auto sales:
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Syntroleum Corporation(SYNM)
Syntroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries engage in commercializing and licensing its Syntroleum technologies to produce synthetic liquid hydrocarbons. Its Syntroleum process involves conversion of carbon containing material into synthesis gas; and conversion of the synthesis gas or coal-derived or biomass-derived syngas into hydrocarbons. The company also develops the Synfining Process technology for the conversion of Fischer-Tropsch wax into various products, including diesel fuels, jet fuels, lubricants, naphtha, and other materials. In addition, it offers the Bio-Synfining technology, a second generation renewable fuels technology that is feedstock flexible, including the use of vegetable oils, fats, fatty acids, and greases. Syntroleum Corporation was founded in 1984 and is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- [By John Udovich]
As a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report comes out about wasteful spending on biofuels, small cap renewable biofuel stock Gevo, Inc (NASDAQ: GEVO) reported earnings that came in below expectations – meaning its worth taking a closer look at the GAO report, the stock and the performance of KiOR Inc (NASDAQ: KIOR), Solazyme Inc (NASDAQ: SZYM) and Syntroleum Corp (NASDAQ: SYNM).
- [By John Udovich]
Small cap biofuel or synthetic fuel stocks Gevo, Inc (NASDAQ: GEVO), KiOR Inc (NASDAQ: KIOR), Solazyme Inc (NASDAQ: SZYM) and Syntroleum Corp (NASDAQ: SYNM) all seem to have been seeing some trading action in recent days – meaning its worth taking a closer look at all four before taking a look at their rather dismal long term performance while noting that none are yet profitable:
Best Quality Companies To Invest In Right Now: Electro Scientific Industries Inc (ESIO)
Electro Scientific Industries, Inc. (ESI) incorporated on April 19, 1949, is a supplier of laser-based manufacturing solutions for the microtechnology industry. The Company operates high-technology manufacturing equipment, which consists of products that are organized in three groups: interconnect & microfabrication, semiconductor and components. The Company’s laser systems enable precise structuring of micron to submicron features in components and devices which are used in a wide variety of end products in the consumer electronics, computer, semiconductor, communications and other markets. Its laser microfabrication systems allow microelectronics, semiconductor, and other microtechnology manufacturers to physically alter select device features during high-volume production. In June 2012, it acquired Eolite Systems.
The Company’s laser-based systems improve production yields or enable improved performance for flexible and rigid high density interconnect printed circuit boards, semiconductor devices, light emitting diodes (LEDs), advanced semiconductor packaging, touch-panel glass, flat panel liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and other high value components. Additionally, it produces high-capacity test and inspection equipment that is critical to control process during the production of multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs). Its equipment ensures that each component meets the electrical and physical tolerances required to perform properly. Lastly, it produces systems that use photonic technology to perform precision inspection for control and defect identification. The Company’s Interconnect & Microfabrication Group products address an expanding number of applications and materials on a broad set of substrates, including panels, continuous-feed reels, and discrete three dimensional components or devices.
Interconnect Via Drilling
For electrical interconnect applications, The Company’s laser via mic ro fabrication systems target applications that require the ! highest accuracy and smallest via (hole) dimensions to create electrical connections between layers in flexible circuits, high-density circuit boards and IC packages. The Company’s microvia drilling technology addresses the rapidly changing applications in IC packages, multichip modules and HDI circuit boards. Its ultraviolet (UV) laser processing systems employ technology in lasers, optics and motion control.
The Company offers several platforms that enable customers to perform precision drilling, scribing, cutting, etching, routing or marking on many different types of materials and devices including glass, metal, plastic, paint and ceramics. It also offer laser ablation systems that ablate material for identification and analysis applications, including forensics, mineral analysis and research.
Semiconductor Group (SG)
The Company’s Semiconductor Group products address multiple applicatio ns that utilize laser energy to process materials on wafer-based substrates. This includes traditional silicon wafers, LEDs wafers, and new ultrathin silicon wafers used in the three-dimensional (3D) packaging applications. Semiconductor Memory Yield Improvement Systems includes semiconductor memory yield improvement products are designed to cost-effectively enable post-repair yield improvements in the manufacturing of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) memory devices.
3D Semiconductor Wafer Processing
The 3D chip packaging technologies is driving the need for silicon wafers to become thinner in order to allow for stacking of wafers within the same packaging geometry. As wafers become thinner, they become more challenging to cut into discrete chips using traditional mechanical saws. The Company’s model 9900 uses a laser to dice ultra-thin silicon wafers, those with a thickness of 50 microns or below, and to singulate interposers. In addition, th is platform can be used to scribe next generation thin film ! materials! that lend themselves to laser processing.
LED Wafer Scribing
The Company’s AccuScribe line of sapphire wafer scribing systems is a key component in the manufacture of LEDs. During production, LEDs are created on a thin wafer of synthetic sapphire crystal that must be broken into individual units at the end of the process. The brittle nature of the sapphire wafer requires that it be carefully cut in order to prevent unwanted fractures, yield losses, and lower light output when the wafer is broken apart into discrete LEDs. The AccuScribe systems use a laser to scribe the wafer with a precise groove between individual LEDs. When mechanical force is applied to the wafer, it fractures along these grooves and allows the wafer to be split apart into discrete LEDs. These systems are capable of scribing both standard and high brightness designs for general illumination applications. In addition, this platform can be used to address singulation of various LED packaging materials.
The Comapny’s laser LCD repair systems are critical to improving yields in the manufacture of flat panel displays. During production, individual pixels of a display may develop electrical defects that result in no light emission or the emission of only a steady white light. To correct these defects, flat panel display producers employ a laser repair process to isolate the electrical defects during production by cutting the inputs to the pixel. Its laser systems are primarily sold to the manufacturers of LCD repair tools as a key component of their products.
The products include industry wafer marking equipment, wafer and circuit trim tools, and LCD repair tools. Wafer marking equipment is used for serialization and wafer identification by both manufacturers of semiconductor wafers and within semiconductor fabs. Wafer and circuit trim tools are laser systems t hat adjust the electrical performance of semiconductor devic! es or hyb! rid circuits by removing a precise amount of material from one or more circuit components.
Components Group (CG)
The Company designs and manufactures products that combine high-speed small parts handling technology with real-time control systems to provide automated, cost-effective inspection solutions for manufacturers of MLCC and other passive components such as capacitor arrays, inductors, resistors, varistors and hybrid circuits. These components, produced in quantities of trillions of units per year, process analog, digital and high-frequency signals and are used in all electronic products.
The Company provides several types of products and solutions in this market. Its MLCC test systems employ high-speed handling and positioning techniques to precisely load, test and sort MLCCs based on their electrical energy storage capacity, or capacitance, and their electrical energy leakage, or dissipation factor. Its 35XX series is the prod uctive tester. Its 3510 model enables high speed testing of the industry’s smallest metric 0402 capacitors used primarily in advanced cell phone and tablet designs. It also produces consumable products, such as carrier plates and termination belts, both of which are used to hold MLCCs during the manufacturing and testing process.
The Company competes with Mechanics, Ltd., LPKF Laser & Electronics AG, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Orbotech Ltd., InnoLas Systems GmbH, DISCO Corporation, Laser Solutions, Inc., Quantel USA, Inc., Humo Laboratory, Ltd. and HOYA Corporation.
- [By Eric Volkman]
Electro Scientific Industries (NASDAQ: ESIO ) has a new division under its corporate wing. The company has inked a definitive agreement to purchase the semiconductor systems unit of GSI Group (NASDAQ: GSIG ) . The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- [By Evan Niu, CFA]
What: Shares of Electro Scientific (NASDAQ: ESIO ) popped briefly today, up by 11% at the high, after the company reported earnings.
So what: Revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter totaled $39.6 million, which translated into a non-GAAP net loss of $1 million, or $0.03 per share. Both figures came out better than expected, as consensus estimates were calling for $38.1 million in revenue and an adjusted loss of $0.07 per share.