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Syria Concerns Weigh on Markets; “Ack” Attack Officially Ends; Selling FB and BBY

Hot Stock Minute

The situation in Syria is weighing on markets this morning. Investors are exiting stocks amid fears of a U.S. military intervention. Right now it looks like we'll be adding to losses from late yesterday when the indexes dropped. In fact the Dow is now poised to open almost 90 points lower. Yahoo! Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more on the seriousness in Syria in the video above.

The Ack attack on J.C. Penney (JCP) is officially over. Pershing Square's Bill Ackman has sold his entire 18% stake in the troubled retailer. The move comes two weeks after Ackman resigned from Penney's board. He lost $600-million in the company since first snapping up shares three years ago. J.C. Penney stock dropped another 2.5% yesterday on news of Ackman's exit. It's down 19% over the past month, and it has plunged 36% so far this year.

Another activist investor, Daniel Loeb is making a bid for Sotheby's (BID). Loeb's Third Point hedge fund has bought a 5.7% stake in the auction house. Chances are he could increase that stake. In the meantime Loeb already says he intends to engage in a dialogue with the board. Sotheby's shares spiked on the news, closing up 3% yesterday and were just pennies short of their highest point in over two years.

Facebook's (FB) Sheryl Sandberg has unloaded shares of the social network. An SEC filing released last night shows Sandberg sold more than 176,000 shares on August 22nd. The price per share: $38.52 each, or $6.8-million dollars, minus the commission of course. But maybe Sandberg sold too soon. Facebook shares hit a new all-time high yesterday. After reaching $41.94 in intraday trading, they ended the regular session at $41.36.

Another filing shows Best Buy (BBY) founder Richard Schulze is looking to reduce his stakes in the electronics giant. Schulze currently owns 70-million shares, which is about 21% of the company. The stock is up 203% so far in 2013 and hit a new 52-week high yesterday. Schulze won't begin selling his shares until October.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Tiffany (TIF) is up more than 2.5% on its earnings. The company released its report this morning saying it made 83-cents a share versus estimates of 74-cents a share. Revenue however missed the mark at $925.9-million when consensus was for $941-million. Tiffany says its profits were helped by unexpectedly strong sales in China where it had feared a slowdown. The company is now increasing its outlook for the rest of the year. This morning's gains push Tiffany to a new 52-week high, with shares up more than 40% this year.

TiVo (TIVO) reports this afternoon. The company is expected to post losses of 10-cents a share for the quarter. That would be an improvement over last year when losses were 23-cents a share. Revenue is likely to increase more than 30% to $71.48-million. TiVo's subscriber base has been growing and is now about 3.4-million accounts. In addition, fewer people have been canceling the service. TiVo's shares have been down more than 12% since the start of 2013.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has just gotten downgraded by a long-time analyst. Richard Bove at Rafferty Capital cut the country's biggest bank to hold from buy, citing increased regulation and what he calls a government vendetta. He also lowered JPM's price target to $57 from $60. JPMorgan closed around $51 yesterday, up 16% year-to-date. The stock has rallied 39% over the past year. By the way, in an unrelated note, one of two former JPMorgan traders has just been arrested overseas this morning on charges stemming from the London Whale case.

Tyson Foods (TSN) fell more than 7% yesterday, also on a downgrade. Merrill Lynch cut Tyson to neutral from buy citing an increased supply of chickens, which will hurt margins. Merrill also cut Tyson's price target by a dollar to $32 a share. The stock closed around $29 yesterday, after the drop. It's up 48% year-to-date.

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