Today's Primer

Today's Primer Post


Weekly winning streaks are on the line for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq as we enter the final trading day of the week. Both are modestly positive for the week, and neither has suffered a weekly loss as yet in 2013. If the S&P 500 manages to keep that streak going, it will be the first time since 1967 that the index has opened a year with seven straight weekly gains.

A handful of economic reports are in the mix ahead of the Friday session, beginning with the New York Fed's Empire State Survey at 8:30 a.m. New York time. That measure of New York state manufacturing is expected to come in at -3.0 for February, a less negative reading than January's -7.78. At 9:15 a.m. New York time, the Federal Reserve issues industrial production and factory capacity utilization figures for January, with consensus forecasts calling for a 0.2 percent increase in production following December's 0.3 percent rise, and utilization of 78.9 percent compared to December's 78.8 percent.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be issued at 9:55 a.m., with economists looking for a preliminary February reading of 75.0 compared to January's final figure of 73.8.

Food is in the earnings spotlight this morning, with Campbell Soup (CPB), Kraft Foods (KRFT), and J.M. Smucker all set to report before trading opens. VF Corp. (VFC) and Burger King Holdings (BKW) are also on the this morning's schedule. As is often the case on Friday, there are no earnings reports of note scheduled for after the closing bell.

Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) is among our stocks to watch, as the disabled Carnival triumph finally makes it to port in Mobile, Alabama and passengers disembark.

Apple (AAPL) is a notable entry in Greenlight Capital's latest 13F filing, as the firm increases its stake in the company as well as buying new Apple call options. Greenlight has also increased its holdings in Microsoft (MSFT), while cutting stakes in Seagate (STX) and Yahoo (YHOO). Appaloosa Management has also increased its stake in Apple.

Herbalife (HLF) is also mentioned in 13F filings, with investor Carl Icahn revealing a nearly 13 percent stake, further highlighting his dispute with Pershing Square's Bill Ackman, who has a sizable short position. New filings also show David Loeb's Third Point taking a new stake in Herbalife.

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is one of Berkshire Hathaway's new holdings, as detailed in Berkshire's 13F filing. It's also taken a new stake in Versign (VRSN), while increasing its stakes in DirecTV (DTV), General Motors (GM), and Precision Castparts (PCP).

CBS (CBS) reported fourth quarter profit of $0.64 per share, four cents below estimates, with revenues also slightly short of consensus. Analysts appear to be shrugging off the shortfall, saying CBS should have a good year if the ad market remains strong. The company has also increased its stock buyback program by $1 billion dollars for this year, doubling its prior commitment. It will initiate the accelerated purchases during the current quarter.

Agilent Technologies (A) earned $0.63 per share for its fiscal first quarter, four cents below estimates. The testing equipment maker also gave a current quarter outlook below analyst forecasts, as sales fall and operating margins narrow.

PNC Financial (PNC) has named William Demchack as its new CEO, effective April 23. He currently serves as president, and will replace James Rohr on April 23. Rohr will remain as chairman for an additional year.

Scripps Networks (SNI) has increased its quarterly dividend by 25 percent to $0.15 per share from the prior $0.12. It will be payable on March 8 to shareholders of record on February 28.

UPS (UPS) has increased its quarterly dividend by nearly 9 percent to $0.62 per share, as well as authorizing an additional $10 billion share buyback.

Walt Disney (DIS) will see opposition in its move to allow the chairman and CEO jobs to be held by the same person. Pension fund CalSTRS will vote against the proposal, which will be presented at Disney's March annual meeting.

Electronic Arts (EA) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) could benefit from NPD's latest report showing videogame industry sales rose 9 percent in January compared to a year earlier.