A revolving door at JC Penney (JCP) has left CEO Ron Johnson out on the street and his predecessor Myron Ullman back in. Ullman returns immediately, after a vote yesterday from Penney's board. It was just 17-months ago that Johnson arrived at Penney's from Apple (AAPL) with great fanfare. His plans to create boutiques within the larger department stores drew praise, but a change in pricing strategy led to a 25% drop in sales. JCP is down more than 6% in premarket trading and at less than $15 is testing a new 52-week low.
Alcoa (AA) has given us an auspicious start to earnings season, at least on the surface. The company beat the street reporting a 59% rise in net profit for the first quarter. But a look beyond the headline shows that number dropping to 15% when you exclude special items. Earnings excluding those items came to 11-cents a share, beating estimates of 8-cents. They also improve upon last year's number of 10-cents a share though sales were down 3% and missed estimates. Alcoa shares climbed 1.8% yesterday ahead of the report, but than pulled back upon its release.
Newscorp (NWSA) is threatening a change in the air. The company says it will move the Fox network over to cable from broadcast unless the courts intervene. The reason: Barry Diller's startup Aereo, which redistributes broadcast signals using tiny antennas. Newscorp says the service could cost it billions in fees from cable and satellite companies. Univision says it will follow Fox's lead. No word yet from the other major networks.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is up this morning after rising more than 13% yesterday. Word is that Microsoft will be using an AMD processor for its new Xbox gaming console. The current Xbox uses an IBM chip. AMD is also working with Sony for its upcoming Playstation-4. AMD is still trading at just 1/3 of where it was a year ago.
Next up we have Ford (F), which has announced that its Focus was the world's top-selling car in 2012. Shares were up nearly 3% yesterday ahead of the announcement. We'll have to see which way they move today. Ford says sales were boosted by demand here at home and in China where the Focus was introduced last March. Ford is off its 52-week highs, but doing much better than it was last summer.
Monster Beverage (MNST) has been moving higher. The company has announced a new 200-million dollar share repurchase program. In addition, analysts at Wells Fargo says there's still plenty of room for revenue growth. Monster is down sharply since last summer on reports that its energy drinks have been linked to deaths. Last month Monster decided to market its products as beverages instead of dietary supplements to cut down on regulation.
Finally, there's a ray of hope for Suntech (STP) the bankrupt solar manufacturer. Shares jumped more than 15% yesterday on word that Warren Buffett may want to buy the company. Suntech is based in China. It defaulted last month on a bond payment of more than 1/2 billion dollars. Even with yesterday's climb it's trading at under 50-cents a share and currently has a market cap of just $87 million-- pocket change for Buffett.
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