Welcome to a March of madness. We kick off the new month with the sequester staring us in the face. And lawmakers who don't look like they're going to blink. Here's the latest: President Obama is set to hold a meeting with Congressional leaders including House Speaker John Boehner later this morning. But there's little if any hope of a deal, so the President is expected to sign a measure for 85-billion dollars in cuts. Some Republicans say the impending spending cuts are a good thing.
Andrew Mason's time at Groupon (GRPN) has expired. Mason has been removed from his post as CEO of the online dealsite, following its dismal earnings report. In his farewell letter to staff posted online he wrote "After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding—I was fired today." Groupon stock was down nearly 25% yesterday. But it earned back more than 7% in after-hours trading when Mason's ouster was announced.
In a related story, speculation is starting to swirl that J.C.Penney's (JCP) CEO Ron Johnson could be shown the door. Penney's stock dropped 17% yesterday following dismal earnings reported after the close Wednesday.
Time again to ask the Oracle, or at least get a read on what he's thinking. Today's the day Warren Buffett issues his annual letter as part of Berkshire Hathaway's annual report. Buffett likes to use the letter as a way to educate his shareholders. Back in May he said this year's topic could be a lesson on dividends.
Today's Stocks To Watch
Best Buy (BBY) tops our list today of stocks to watch. The company just reported earnings after a day's delay. Best Buy says it earned $1.64 a share, beating estimates by 10-cents. As for that delay, it can be traced back to company founder Richard Schulze. He was trying one last time to cobble together a deal to take over the firm but that has fallen through. Best Buy has been trading around $16 a share. Shares are up about 6% in premarket trading.
Next, we have Facebook (FB), which has bought itself new help in its war against Google (GOOG). Facebook is acquiring "Atlas Advertiser Suite" from Microsoft. Atlas helps companies decide where to place display ads online. Then it monitors their effectiveness. Facebook currently controls 15% of the display ad market, Google lays claim to 18%. Facebook shares were up 1.4% yesterday.
Herbalife is getting a boost. Shares were up 7% at yesterday's closing bell. The rise stems from the latest chapter in the public battle between activist investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman. Icahn has now struck a deal allowing him to pick two Herbalife board members. He also gets the right to increase his stake in the company to 25%. The stock was briefly halted ahead of the news. Herbalife is still trading well off its 52-week high.
And finally, a show of force from Salesforce dot com (CRM). Shares jumped nearly 5-percent when the company reported after yesterday's closing bell. Salesforce actually widened its losses. But its core earnings were up. Plus the company raised its forecast for the full year. Salesforce has been doing rather well for its investors since the summer and is flirting with its 52-week high in premarket trading.