The S&P is sitting pretty. The broad index is now just two points shy of an all-time high. At yesterday's close, the index was at 1563, up nearly nine points on the day. By the way, the Dow is now up 10 days in a row, and has logged eight consecutive all-time highs. Looking ahead to today, the markets have been up every Friday so far in 2013. Gains today would mean the Dow's longest winning streak since one that began in 1991 and ran into 1992.
JPMorgan's (JPM) captain is in hot water over the London Whale. A Senate subcommittee says JPM's CEO Jamie Dimon tried to hide the whale's multi-billion dollar trading losses from investors and regulators. The head of the committee, Michigan's Carl Levin says the company, "piled on risk, ignored limits on risk taking, hid losses, dodged oversight and misinformed the public." A JPMorgan rep tells the Wall Street Journal, "While we have repeatedly acknowledged mistakes, our senior management acted in good faith and never had any intent to mislead anyone." JPMorgan shares hit $51 yesterday, their 52-week high. But they're down about 2% ahead of the bell.
Separately, The Federal Reserve Bank says JP Morgan displayed weaknesses in capital planning as part of an annual stress test. Also cited was Goldman Sachs (GS). Both banks will have to resubmit plans before issuing dividends or buying back shares.
It was a galactic event for the unveiling of the S4 smartphone. Samsung kicked-off its campaign at the home of the Rockettes: Radio City Music Hall. The phone is slightly larger than its predecessor. Its features include "Smart Pause" where a video stops playing when the phone's user looks away. Another feature is "Air View" which lets you view an email just by hovering your finger over it. There are two cameras. One has 13 megapixels.
STOCKS TO WATCH
Carnival Cruise Lines is first among our stocks to watch. Carnival is reporting earnings this morning. It's no secret this company has hit some rough seas over the past three months. The period covers the disaster on the Carnival Triumph where an engine room fire knocked out power and plumbing, stranding people for days. By the way, two of Carnival's ships-- the Legend and the Dream-- are currently having mechanical problems. Carnival hit its 52-week high of nearly $40 around Christmas. It has been trading about 10% shy of that.
Already reporting this morning is the Brown Shoe Company (BWS). Net earnings were 9-cents a diluted share versus a loss of 21-cents for the same period last year. This stock was up more than 2% yesterday, and is just about a dollar shy of its 52-week high. Brown Shoe is the parent company of Famous Footwear and Naturalizer, plus a number of other brands. The company declared a 7-cent dividend ahead of the earnings report, which could be the reason for yesterday's rise.
Also reporting this morning is Hibbett Sports (HIBB). The company says its net sales increased 14% over the same time last year. Hibbett owns sporting goods stores in small to mid-sized markets. Most of its locations are around the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest. Keep in mind we saw larger rival Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) plummet after reporting earnings on Monday, but then regain its footing with some analyst upgrades.
Finally, we take a second look at Velti Mobile (VELT), which we first mentioned on Wednesday. It has been up in premarket trading, but bled another 14% yesterday. That was on top of more than a 25% loss on Wednesday. Velti's business is mobile advertising. The company's meltdown began after it reported earnings. Velti posted a loss of $5 million, compared to net income of $25 million a year ago.