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ADP Payroll Report & Weekly Jobless Claims; Oil Shoots Up; Dell Deja Vu

Hot Stock Minute

We're getting a double dose of jobs data, because of the July 4th holiday. Weekly jobless claims, which usually come out Thursday, were released this morning. The Labor Department says there were 343,000 claims for the week, slightly below estimates of 345,000. Meanwhile, the ADP payroll report, which traditionally comes out on a Wednesday, was released at 8:15. It shows 188,000 non-farm private sector jobs created in June. The consensus was for about 165-thousand jobs.

Oil has shot above $100 a barrel for the first time since September. The surge stems from the political unrest in Egypt. The country is not a major oil producer, but it controls the Suez Canal which is key for shipments out of the Mideast. Adding to the concern is a report from the American Petroleum Institute which says U-S stockpiles of oil had their sharpest decline of the year just last week.

Call it Dell (DELL) deja vu. A plan to take the computer company private appears to be in jeopardy once again. There are multiple reports that investor advisory firm ISS is now leaning against the deal. If ISS does in fact decide to give the plan a thumbs-down, it's more likely the proposal will fall apart. That means pressure is on founder Michael Dell to sweeten the current buyout offer of $13.65 a share. At the same time, Bloomberg says billionaire Carl Icahn claims to have secured $5.2 billion to support a new bid of his own. Dell shares are up 25% year-to-date largely on a spike in January when reports of a buyout plan first surfaced.

STOCKS TO WATCH

International Speedway (ISCA) is up fractionally despite reporting disappointing quarterly earnings at about 7:30 this morning. The company says it made 48-cents a share when expectations were for 50-cents. Revenue also came in lower than expected at $178.4 million. International Speedway is the owner of numerous race tracks including the Daytona Speedway which is about to undergo a renovation starting Friday. The company stock is up about 24% over the last year. It's been trading about $3 below its 52-week high which it hit back in May.

Next is Bassett (BSET) furniture which will also report earnings. Bassett is expected to post profits of 18-cents a share, twice the amount in the last quarter when sales were just shy of $80 million. Bassett has been enjoying a jump in sales this year. In Q-1 it saw revenue rise 31% over the prior year, perhaps as the housing market picks up. Bassett stock is up is 53% over the past year in what has been a pretty steady climb.

Now we look at Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) which was down 5.7% yesterday. Mead Johnson is one of several makers of infant formula now being investigated by China for price-fixing. Imported formula has been in high demand around China since 2008 when six children were killed by a tainted domestic product. Other companies being investigated for price fixing include Nestle, Danon, Abbott Labs and Wyeth, but none of their stocks took as big of a hit. Yesterday's drop in share price leaves Mead Johnson with about an 8% gain in price so far this year.

Finally there's Noodles and Company (NDLS), which is currently up another 5% in early trading. It rose another 22% yesterday in its third day of trading. That means shares of the restaurant chain are up a whopping 40% since they began trading Friday morning at $32 a share. That was already well above their offering price of $18 a pop. Noodles and company owns and operates about 350 stores. Its CEO Kevin Reddy came from Chipotle (CMG) so there have been lots of comparisons between the companies.

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