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Talk about disregarding bad news: Investors have been all but ignoring a fairly miserable earnings season as hopes proliferate that in the end it's only a blip on the profit radar.
The market actually has risen modestly during a reporting period in which profits are up a scant 2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and expectations among analysts remain that the overall season could see a net loss for companies on the S&P 500.
In fact, Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, pointed out in a recent report that the total earnings "cycle"—from the recession trough in the second quarter of 2009 to the current level—is the weakest in 55 years, dating to the late days of the Eisenhower administration.
But like many of his Wall Street brethren, Kleintop believes the current low is only a temporary lull before a stronger economy free of winter's clutches triggers stronger corporate profits.
Happy Tuesday. Keep your eye on the prize and watch out for the activist investor looking to snag your Morning Six-Pack.
One of the kings of activist investors, Bill Ackman, is in on the prowl and about to land perhaps the biggest fish of his career as Valeant gets set to make a major move on Allergan and all of its Botox and breast implant glory. (Wall Street Journal)
Alan Mulally, whose reign at Ford will be remembered for the way he demonstrated that you can run a successful auto company without needing the government to hold your hand and pay your bills, is expected to leave sooner than expected. (Economic Times)
Dan Loeb continued his battle against Sotheby's with a new letter promoting Third Point's board nominees over the art house's slate.
"We are convinced that having an owner's perspective in the boardroom yields better results, that this board is in dire need of fresh insights, and that our candidates are more qualified than the company's emissaries we are seeking to replace," Loeb wrote in the letter released Monday.
"We are confident that adding three shareholder voices to this twelve-person board will do more to improve Sotheby's long-term growth and increase its share price than would rubber-stamping the company's latest set of hand-picked nominees."
Shareholders will formally vote on the new board at Sotheby's annual stockholder meeting May 6, but proxy cards were sent at the end of March, prompting Third Point to position itself early. Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises stock owners, will likely release its recommendation on the fight this week.
Third Point's director nominees are Loeb himself, plus turnaround expert Harry Wilson and jewelry executive Olivier Reza. Sotheby's nominees are private equity advisor Jessica Bibliowicz, retail mall developer Robert Taubman, and restaurateur Daniel Meyer.
After renting a two-bedroom apartment on New York City's Lower East Side for several years, 32-year old Lea Ann Willett and her husband craved more amenities and space, and floors that didn't creek.
Buying a condo in Manhattan wasn't an option. The Willetts wanted to avoid dealing with co-op boards and the general risks associated with owning in the New York market.
So the couple branched out and decided to rent a two-bedroom apartment in a brand new high-end building in Brooklyn Heights—equipped with a washer and dryer in each unit, stainless steel appliances and a virtual doorman. Plus, the subways and an Equinox gym are just steps away.
"It is such an investment in your health and well-being," said Willett, who loves the idea of being the first person to live in the apartment. "It definitely felt like the right move."
Happy Easter Monday. May your basket overflow with marshmallow Peeps.
And may Boston be alive Monday with swiftness and safety as the first post-bombing Boston Marathon commences. (Boston.com)
This writer in a previous lifetime wrote many a story about cellulosic ethanol and how cornstalks and other such things could be converted to fuel, which a new study says contributes more greenhouse gases than gasoline. (redOrbit)
Here's further proof that serious international investors are warming to Africa: The Carlyle Group announced Wednesday that it had raised $698 million for its dedicated continental fund, nearly $200 million above its initial target.
The firm initially sought $500 million for the Carlyle Sub-Saharan Africa Fund when it launched in March 2012. The firm's Africa operations are based out of Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, and its investments focus on buyouts and minority investments in goods, logistics, financial services, agribusiness and energy.
"We are optimistic about prospects for investing in Sub-Saharan Africa," David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Carlyle, said in a statement announcing closing the fund to new capital. "The region has been the fastest growing developing market in the world outside of China, and we have a strong, experienced, local team in the region. We are very pleased with investor interest in this strategy."
Major market averages may not have much further to fall before indicating that something considerably worse is in store.
Technical analysis is putting key stock indicators near what Walter Zimmerman, chief market technician at United-ICAP, calls the "must-hold" levels—areas that have not been violated since the March 2009 lows that kicked off the heretofore powerful bull market run.
For the S&P 500, that line in the sand happens at the 1,785 level—just about 2 percent from trading levels at midday Tuesday.
For the Nasdaq, which is receiving more attention since it has suffered the steeper declines and is near a correction drop of 10 percent, the level is around 3,830—about 3.5 percent from the current mark.
Break those points, and Zimmerman warns that a highly uncomfortable time lies ahead for bullish investors.
A senior investment banker at Barclays is set to leave following a combined 17 years at the bank and the one it acquired, Lehman Brothers.
Larry Wieseneck, now head of global distribution and structuring at Barclays, will depart in June to "pursue other interests," according to an internal memo sent to employees today that was obtained by CNBC.com.
Happy Wednesday. We now return to our regularly scheduled program of spring.
Changes to census questions will make it impossible to gauge the effects of Obamacare accurately, which you might imagine has some folks pretty steamed. (New York Post)
Ian Harnett, a European analyst at Absolute Strategy Research, believes stocks will rally another 20 percent in 2014.
Facebook and Apple initially cheered markets, but the bounce didn't last long.
Michael Yoshikami is no Apple fanboy but he thinks the company's innovation pipeline did not die with Steve Jobs and it's ridiculous to say otherwise.