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BoJ Decision on Bonds; Sony Swings on Exclusive Report; Ford Gears Up

Hot Stock Minute

Japan is standing by its plan. The BOJ is standing pat on its policy despite the jitters it's causing in the bond market. What does the decision mean for us and the rest of the global ecomony? Yahoo! Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli explains in the video above.

There's other news emanating from Japan: Sony (SNE) stock has been swinging on a story that lost something in translation. A Japanese news service reported in English that Sony was leaning towards spinning-off its entertainment division. But Sony quickly asked for a correction, saying that it was simply agreeing to look at a proposal. Activist investor Daniel Loeb suggested Sony split itself apart so that its ailing electronics arm stops weighing down the more profitable entertainment division. Sony shares were up more than 9% yesterday here at home, and were trading even higher on the Nikkei today until the clarification was issued. They've climbed 39% in the last month and are now at a 2-year high.

Ford (F) is shifting its operations into high gear. The country's second largest automaker says it will increase production by 200,000 cars in North America this year. The company is adding shifts at several plants, and cutting the usual summer shutdown from two weeks to one. There are no plans however, to open any new plants. Ford is up 47% over the last year. We should also mention that both GM (GM) and Chrysler are making plans to increase production.

ESPN employees are paying the price for rising rates to air games. The cable powerhouse has started laying off hundreds of workers to cut costs. It won't say exactly how many, or what the workers do. ESPN currently has about 7,000 employees and has been a perpetual cash cow for Disney (DIS), its parent company. Disney stock is up 29% this year and recently hit a new all-time high.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Target (TGT) released its quarterly earnings within the past hour. The company missed narrowly on revenues, but excluding items it easily beat on earnings posting $1.05 a share when estimates were for 85-cents. Target is blaming soft sales in season and weather related categories for the miss. By the way, Target has just started a push into Canada, where it has just opened 24-stores. Shares are down 2% in early trading but they're up about 25% over the past year.

Lowe's (LOW) is also down about 2% this morning on the release of its quarterly report. The company missed estimates posting profits of 49-cents a share when consensus was for 51-cents. The home improvement chain also came-in about $300-million shy on revenues. Just for reference, Home Depot had a strong beat yesterday citing the improving housing market. Lowe's like Target is blaming the weather for its woes, saying cool temperatures and lots of rain this spring hurt sales of outdoor items. Lowe's is up 67% over the past year as the housing recovery seems to take hold.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) will be reporting earnings after today's closing bell. Analysts are calling for the company to post profits of 81-cents a share down from 98-cents a year ago. Revenue is also expected to be significantly lower. The issues here are no secret: HP's core printer and PC businesses are slowing. At the same time it's facing tough competition in newer ventures like the cloud. Nevertheless the company has been the best performer in the Dow this year, up more than 40%.

Shares of Saks (SKS) are up a whopping 19% right now. That's on top of an 11% jump yesterday. The second part of the climb came after the New York Post reported that Saks has hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to explore the possibility of selling itself. The first one resulted from the company's release of its quarterly report. Excluding items, Saks matched expectations for earnings of 19-cents a share with a beat on revenues. The chain says sales for the rest of the year should be up between 4% and 6%. Even before this morning's rise, yesterday's climb brought the stock to a 5-year high.

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