Executive Edge

This market bubble is just getting started

Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com
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Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.


Based on corporate earnings projections, stocks still have plenty of room to rise. That's the message from Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. Currently around 16,000—a record Siegel predicted way back in January—the Dow could go to 18,000, though Siegel says it's impossible to predict how soon. Earnings are up 10 to 12 percent this year, and are predicted to rise around 8 percent next year. Historically, great years like 2013 tend to be followed by pretty good years.

Still, corporate America has been squeezing profits from a stone, given the lackluster economic growth, and there are no signs of any dramatic change coming soon. The Federal Reserve of Philadelphia said today that 42 forecasters in its survey predict growth at an annual rate of 1.8 percent this quarter, down from their previous estimate of 2.3 percent. For the first quarter of 2014, they're now calling for 2.5 percent, down from 2.7 percent estimated earlier.


"It doesn't mean that we're going to get there right away or we're going to get there in a straight line. We've had a long time without even a 10 percent correction... [But] I don't think this bull market is over yet."—Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel

"We reiterate our belief that the great equity rotation, which we first discussed in August of 2012, is unfolding and there is no alternative to equities."—Craig W. Johnson, technical market strategist at Piper Jaffray

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New CEO, same old Wal-Mart


The torch is passing at the world's biggest retailer. Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke will retire early next year to be replaced Feb. 1 by Doug McMillon, who, as chief of the company's international division, currently oversees 6,300 stores in 26 countries. McMillon, who'd been considered a likely candidate, is described as a calm leader unlikely to make dramatic changes. Still, some questioned the wisdom of announcing a leadership change at the start of the biggest shopping season of the year.


"I would bet that very little would be different. I think that's part of why the stock's barely moving at this point. It's going to be a seamless transition."—Joe Feldman, a senior retail analyst at Telsey Advisory Group

"As someone who follows retail closely, this is not the time to change horses so to speak."—CNBC's Jim Cramer

A Best Buy employee in New York restocks items on Black Friday last year.
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US is one big red tag sale


They still call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday," and retailers still count on the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas weeks being their biggest-grossing period, but it's just not what it used to be. In fact, red might be the dominant color—red for sales tags fixed to more merchandise earlier than ever.

Ever since the Great Recession began six years ago, retailers have been forced to offer better and better deals to lure shoppers, eating into profits. Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's and more than two dozen other chains have recently lowered their profit outlooks for the fourth quarter of the year. One prevalent marketing ploy: promise to match competitors' prices. The economy's modest improvements just haven't been enough to boost consumer confidence.


"Stores know that they are well into a fight."—Ken Perkins, president of the research firm RetailMetrics

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How to get on a customer's good side—and how not to


Companies desperate to satisfy consumers should heed the Naughty & Nice list compiled by Consumer Reports. While not a thumbs up or down on an entire company, the list presumably reflects what consumers like and don't like.

On the naughty list: Amazon, for raising by $10, to $35, the purchase required for free Super Saver shipping; BJ's Wholesale Club, for refusing returns on perishable items like food and flowers; and Fry's Electronics, for refusing refunds on TVs 24 inches or larger.

On the nice list: Citibank, for not charging a late fee on its Citi Simplicity card; Consumer Cellular, for not tying customers to contracts and for offering a money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee; and , for not layering on fees for flight changes.

—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com