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Hot Stock Minute: Dow Record In Reach, Penney’s New Problems

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Today may well be a day that goes down in Dow history. A record high is within reach. The Dow ended yesterday's session at 14,127. That's just 37 points shy of its all-time high. And for much of the morning futures have been up more than 30 points. The magic number to beat is 14,164. It was set back in October 2007. The blue-chip index has been sitting within 50-points of setting a new record for a week.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may soon be under one roof. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has laid out plans to create a new company that consolidates the existing ones. A primary goal will be to combine several functions which are now performed by both companies. Fannie and Freddie have operated in competition with each other for decades. They've cost taxpayers $131 billion since the Treasury took them over in 2008.

Things are so bad at J.C. Penney (JCP), even the people behind the store's new strategy are running for the exits. Board member and activist investor Steve Roth is trying to unload 10 million Penney shares owned by his firm (VNO). Roth paid between $25 and $30 for the shares. They shed another 5% yesterday on the news that Roth wants out. That puts them at about $16 apiece-- less than half their price a year ago.

In a related story, Martha Stewart will be taking the stand today in Macy's (M) lawsuit against JCP. Macy's says Penney violated its exclusive contract with the domestic diva.


We start out with a tale of two tech titans on totally different trajectories: Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG). Apple stock dropped another 2% yesterday, hitting a new 52-week low. In fact the markets have peeled away 40% of Apple's value since September, or $285 a share. Yesterday's bruising followed a court decision last Friday. A judge chopped-in-half a $1 billion dollar jury award that Apple won against Samsung.

Meanwhile Google shares hit an all-time high yesterday. And with shares more than $800 apiece, the company's being called Wall Street's 800lb gorilla. Google's shares are surging because the company's Android software is dominating the mobile phone market. In addition, the company is also maintaining its lead in mobile advertising.

Gun-maker Smith and Wesson (SWHC) will report its quarterly earnings after the closing bell. The stock was up almost 5% yesterday. Smith & Wesson's shares fell more than 18% after the Newtown shooting in December, but they bounced back amid a sales surge. The company is expected to report a 36% rise in revenue over last year.

Marriott (MAR) just might seem to have a screw loose. The company is announcing a new partnership today with Ikea. The two companies are teaming-up to create a new low-cost hotel chain in Europe. The hotels won't have Ikea furniture, but in the Ikea mindset many rooms will be pre-fabricated. Shares of Marriott have been see-sawing over the past year, but are currently within striking distance of their 52-week high.

A call for change from the White House. It wants people to be be able to unlock their cell phones if they aren't under contract. It's a no-brainer that most people would prefer unlocked phones. But should the White House be sticking its nose in the matter? Let us know what you think by voting below in our daily poll.