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Hot Stock Minute: JPM & WFC Report, Penney Wants $1 Billion, Defense Stocks Drop

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Two big bank "tellers." J-P Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC), both out with quarterly earnings this morning. Both beat on earnings per share: JPM reported EPS of $1.59 compared with $1.39. WFC made 92-cents versus expectations of 88-cents. But what's the bigger picture? JPMorgan's revenue was actually $10 million less than expected at $25.84 billion. Wells Fargo's revenue was $21.3 billion, which missed by nearly $300-million.

March retail sales missed the mark. They were down .4% for the month. Estimates had been for a decline of .1%. By the way the number rose of 1.1% in February, in part because of higher gas prices.

Several developments in the KPMG insider trading scandal. The feds now say three more companies are tied to the case, including footwear maker Deckers (DECK). As for the KPMG employee, Scott London, he's out on bail and plans to plead guilty. Authorities say he received bags of hundred dollar bills, a Rolex and Springsteen tickets for giving tips to a golf buddy. London worked at KPMG on accounts for Herbalife and Skechers. He was fired from the company when the scandal broke.


Macy's (M) is awaiting a ruling today in the Martha Stewart case. The company already hit a new 52-week high yesterday when a judge refused to throw out the chain's case against the domestic diva. On the table now, whether JC Penney (JCP) should be blocked temporarily from selling some of Martha's wares. The products were expected to be shipped to stores this spring. Macy's shares are up more than 3% just this week, as the trial unfolds. By the way, as for Penney, the company is now trying to raise $1-billion in cash so it can rebuild rather than go bankrupt. One scenario has it selling a stake to private equity.

Next is Harris Corp (HRS), which plummeted after the closing bell yesterday, saying it's hurting from the sequester. Harris makes wireless network transmission equipment. The company says it's being forced to lay off workers and cut expenses because key orders have been pushed back by the spending cuts. Harris has really been left behind in this year's market boom. At last check it was down more than 7% ahead of the bell.

Now a look at Eli Lilly (LLY) which plans to layoff 1,000 of its US sales reps. Lilly says it's preparing for patent losses on two of its blockbuster drugs: Cymbalta for depression, and Evista for osteoporosis. The cuts represent a 30% reduction in the company's sales force. So far the stock hasn't moved much on the announcement. Shares are currently trading at their 52-week high.

Finally we have Chipotle (CMG) which is again giving investors heartburn. It was rising sharply this week, but lost more than 3.5% yesterday. Hedge fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach ridiculed the chain during a speech yesterday saying a gourmet burrito is an “oxymoron.” Soon the twittersphere was lighting up with comments like this one, quoting him. The stock also tumbled last November when activist investor David Einhorn suggested shorting the stock. At one point Chipotle had been on a perch above $400, but it fell on rising food prices.