Today's Primer Post
The major averages continue to push to multi-year highs, with the Dow now less than 1 percent away from its October 2007 record close, and the S&P 500 coming off its highest close since that same month, about 2 percent from its record high. The Nasdaq is at its highest since November 2000.
Investors will get a look at two key economic reports at 8:30 a.m. New York time, with the government issuing January figures for both producer prices and housing starts. Economists expect a 0.5 percent rise in the Producer Price Index following December's 0.2 percent decline, while housing starts are seen declining to an annual rate of 925,000 units from December's 954,000 units.
The Federal Reserve will issue the minutes of the most recent FOMC meeting at 2 p.m., with investors looking for more clues on possible exit strategies from the current accommodative policies and on timing of such moves. This comes on the same day that two Fed officials – St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and San Francisco Fed President John Williams – give separate lunchtime speeches in New York on monetary policy.
Garmin (GRMN), Dish Network (DISH), MGM Resorts (MGM), Six Flags (SIX), Devon Energy (DVN) and SodaStream (SODA) are among the companies issuing quarterly earnings this morning, while Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), Croc (CROX), Denny's (DENN), and Fluor (FLR) are on today's after-the-bell schedule.
Boeing (BA) leads our list of stocks to watch for two separate stories: its engineers have accepted a proposed new contract, while its technical workers have rejected the latest proposed pact. And Reuters reports that the jetmaker has identified a fix for the battery problems that have grounded its 787 Dreamliner.
Dell (DELL) reported fourth quarter profit of $0.40 per share, one cent above estimates, with revenues also beating consensus. Most of the attention on Dell, however, remains focused on the attempt by CEO Michael Dell – along with Microsoft and Silver Lake Partners – to buy the company for $13.65 per share.
Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan earned $12.1 million in 2012, up 73 percent from the prior year, due to increased stock awards. His salary was $950,000 with no cash bonus, with an increase to $1.5 million for 2013.
Apple (AAPL) may lose its case against investor David Einhorn, though a judge did not make an immediate ruling on Einhorn's attempt to halt a vote on a new procedure for issuing preferred stock shares. He did say he is likely to rule in Einhorn's favor when the ruling is handed down.
Analog Devices (ADI) earned $0.44 per share, excluding certain items, for its fiscal first quarter, one cent below estimates, with revenues also falling short. The chipmaker continued to see weaker demand, especially in its automotive business. The company did raise its quarterly dividend to $0.34 per share from $0.30.
Demand Media (DMD) is looking into the possibility of splitting its domain name service from its media business. The company is examining a tax-free distribution of new publicly traded stock, with a nine to 12 month timeline.
Millennial Media (MM) is under pressure this morning after saying it expects first quarter revenue of $48 - $50 million, well below estimates of $56.2 million. Its fourth quarter revenue also came in below expectations. Millennial Media is the largest independent mobile advertising firm.
Michael Kors (KORS) founder Michael Kors is selling three million of his shares in the company as part of a 25 million share secondary offering. This comes following an all-time high for the stock and an increase in the fashion house's full year sales and profit forecast last week.
Herbalife (HLF) is raising its 2013 forecast after reporting fourth quarter profit and revenues that beat estimates. The provider of nutrition products is at the center of a battle between investor Bill Ackman, who has a large short position and calls the company a "pyramid scheme", and Carl Icahn, who has taken a 13 percent stake. Herbalife also says the SEC has requested information regarding the company's business and financial operations.
Marriott (MAR) earned $0.56 per share for the fourth quarter, one cent above estimates, with revenues also above consensus. The hotel chain was helped by higher rates and an increase in international bookings.
BHP Billiton (BHP) CEO Marius Kloppers is retiring in May after more than five years on the job. He'll be replaced by BHP executive Andrew McKenzie, who jumped from rival Rio Tinto in 2008.
La-Z-Boy (LZB) reported fiscal third quarter profit of $0.28 per share, five cents above estimates, with revenues also above Street expectations. The recliner maker saw increased sales, and its retail segment returned to profitability.