From Obamacare to Obama really cares
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Struggling to repair Obamacare's image, the White House today announced a reprieve for individuals and members of small group plans in danger of losing existing health insurance coverage because it does not meet the new Affordable Care Act's minimum standards. Under an administrative fix that does not need congressional approval, insurers will be allowed to renew those otherwise substandard plans for one year. Defenders have argued many plans being cancelled were junk insurance that provided poor coverage, but reports of people losing plans they liked have put the heat on the administration, some of it from congressional Democrats.
"As I indicated earlier, I completely get how upsetting this can be for Americans after assurances they heard from me. To those Americans, I hear you loud and clear and today I'm offering an idea that could help."—President Obama
NSA as earnings culprit
Cisco shares plunged today after the network equipment maker said revenues were likely to drop 8 to 10 percent in the current quarter. At least 17 brokerages cut their price targets for the stock. Cisco cited lower sales to telecom and cable customers, as well as emerging markets such as China. One analyst said Cisco appears increasingly vulnerable to technological innovation and competition. Some critics faulted the company for not preparing the markets with a pre-announcement. But the most interesting part of the earnings blame game may have been Cisco's claim that anti-NSA sentiment has cost them business overseas.
"This was the worst quarter for any Dow stock this year. ... Go to the conference call—open rebellion [among shareholders] is beginning."—CNBC's Jim Cramer
It's the bane of almost every retailer: "shrink," a polite term for losses due to things like employee and customer theft. While always a problem, it's getting worse as weak economies make potential thieves into actual ones. The Global Retail Theft Barometer says the worldwide cost hit $112 billion last year. Brazil and Mexico had the highest shrink rates, at 1.6 percent of sales, followed by the 1.5 percent in the U.S. and China. The lowest was in Japan, at 1 percent, and Australia, at 1.1 percent. Most thieves go after valuable, easy-to-hide and easy-to-sell items like fashion accessories, electronics, shoes and lingerie.
Kohl's reported weak third-quarter earnings driving shares down sharply—it experienced a 1.7 percent drop in U.S. same-store sales. Analysts had forecast a 0.7 percent gain. The chain said it would spend more on marketing to try to recover during the holidays.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart shares held steady after the world's largest retailer said revenue was up 1.6 percent. Earnings, at $1.14 a share, beat estimates by a penny.
"The consumer has a little more money, but the consumer does not have confidence. ... This is a lousy [holiday] calendar for retailers. ... Would I be buying the retail sector as a whole? Absolutely not."— Tom Stemberg, managing general partner Highland Consumer Fund
A helping hand, from a vicious crook
The CryptoLocker crooks have amped up their scam, setting up a website to help befuddled victims pay their ransom. As you may recall from last week, this vicious malware invades a computer and locks up all the files with cutting-edge encryption. To get them back, you have to pay a $300 fee for the decryption code. Since many victims couldn't figure how to get ransom to the filenappers, CryptoLocker now walks them through the steps.
"These guys have some big cojones."—Brian Krebs, author of KrebsOnSecurity blog
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com