The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) annual meeting is finally -- almost -- here, and interest of course is heightened this year because of the abrupt resignation last month of company executive David Sokol, a departure that followed revelations about some of his trading activities.
While Berkshire, specifically CEO and master investor Warren Buffett, initially said Sokol hadn't done anything wrong when he bought shares of Lubrizol (LZ) before suggesting Berkshire acquire the company, this week the tune changed in Omaha. If you're ready to take a short break from the royal wedding coverage, you'll find a good write-up of the Sokol issue in The New York Times, Berkshire Gets Tough With Sokol as Meeting Nears.
Meanwhile, commodities remained a key story in the trading universe. And why not? Gold and silver keep hitting all-time highs, oil continues to run ahead, and crop prices are aloft. Bloomberg's ending the week with an article on coffee's future, with the headline saying it all: Coffee May Rise 40% on Frost After Kraft, Smucker Raised Prices.
For more of the leading topics this trading day, read on.
* Scott Bleier @CreateCapital - $$ Deep-Cyclical earning are peaking now. Enjoy the lagging latecomer buyers to the group. Long term investors should say "Sold to you"...
* Ed Bradford @Fullcarry - The world needs a more stable numeraire. Hard to discern relative price moves when dollar moves relentlessly lower.
* Jason Goepfert @sentimentrader - This is 4th time in 30 yrs that US Dollar fell 8 days to 52wk low. Others = quick rally, then lower low (10/25/04,4/19/07,3/6/08).$$
* Kathy Lien @kathylienfx - Next week is a whole different ballgame with ECB mtg (will Trichet tone down his comments?) and U.S. NFPS due for release #forex #fxtalk
* Tradefast @tradefast - re the disconnect between gold and gold miners -- maybe cuz central banks buy gold, they don't buy gold miners (yet) $GLD $GDX
ON THE BLOGS:
* Taking Shelter - Market Anthropology
* Microsoft: Still an Attractive Play - Seeking Alpha
* Looking for a Breather - Capital Observer
* Weather and Deliveries and Funds ... Oh My - Brian Grete, via Pro Farmer
* Silver Is a Way to Play the US$ — NOT!!!!! - Peter Brandt, via StockTwits
* FactorShares ETFs Might Actually Be Working - Random Roger
IN THE HEADLINES:
* Silver Fever Is About to Break, and Break Badly - MarketWatch
* Earnings Drive the Market - Zacks
* Hop on Board Wells Fargo Options - Barrons.com
* Guessing Game Builds Over Buffett's Next Deal - NYTimes
STOCKS TO WATCH:
* Microsoft (MSFT) said after the prior close that its third-quarter earnings jumped to $5.23 billion from around $4 billion in the year-earlier period. Sales were up 13% to more than $16 billion and were helped by a strong showing from the company's game business.
* Research in Motion (RIMM) cut its earnings outlook for the quarter, and shares of the BlackBerry maker sank in late trading. "This further damages already low credibility, making them the 'poster boy' for a show-me story from here," RBC analyst Mike Abramsky said in a research report, according to Bloomberg.
* Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) might make a hostile bid for NYSE Euronext (NYX), which they are trying to acquire, reports say. The operator of the New York Stock Exchange is planning to merge with Germany's Deutsche Boerse.
* MDC Holdings (MDC), the home builder, has acquired SDC Homes for an undisclosed amount of cash and restricted stock. The acquisition marks the company's entry into the Seattle market.
UPGRADES & DOWNGRADES:
* Procter & Gamble (PG): Deutsche Bank upgrades the stock to buy from hold and raises its price target by $2.
* Colgate-Palmolive (CL): Deutsche Bank upgrades the shares to buy from hold and lifts its target price by $8.
* Research in Motion (RIMM): Jefferies downgrades the stock to underperform from buy and lowers its price target to $35 from $80.
* Dow Chemical (DOW): JP Morgan upgrades the stock to overweight from neutral and increases its price target by $9.
* Molson Coors (TAP): JP Morgan downgrades the shares to neutral from overweight and cuts its price target by $5.
KEY EARNINGS FOR APRIL 29:
* Caterpillar (CAT)
* Chevron (CVX)
* Merck (MRK)
* Newell Rubbermaid (NWL)
Compiled by Elizabeth Trotta and Chris Nichols.
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- Nasdaq OMX
- JP Morgan
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Warren Buffett
- Research in Motion