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Markets to Reopen at Record Highs; JPM Jitters; Rat Meat or Mutton?

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute
Markets to Reopen at Record Highs; JPM Jitters; Rat Meat or Mutton?

Stocks have the chance to break more records in under 60 minutes. But can they? Futures have been mixed as markets prepare to reopen following Friday's sky-high close. The S&P set a record, ending above 1,600 for the first time. The Dow also broke through 15,000, though it closed almost 25 points shy of that mark.

Jamie Dimon is in the middle of a rough patch. JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) most powerful man is facing new opposition to his dual role as CEO and Chairman. The advisory firm ISS is backing a proposal to split the jobs. ISS is also calling for shareholders to vote against three current members of the board when ballots are cast later this month. JPMorgan stock has recently pulled back from quite a tear, but is still up 14% over the year.

Yum! Brands (YUM) finds itself embroiled in another meat scandal in China. A Chinese government website says Yum's "Little Sheep" restaurants bought mislabeled mutton. Last week, tests revealed that meat sold by a supplier as lamb was actually from rats and other small mammals. So far no direct comment from Yum. Shares of the company are down about 5% over the past year. They've been dragged down in part by a scandal over chemicals found on chicken served at KFC in China.

There may soon be a big Neiman Marcus sale. The two private equity firms that own the chain are thinking about taking it off their balance sheets according to Bloomberg. TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus bought Neiman's for a little more than $5-billion dollars back in 2005. They think the company is worth about $8-billion now. Word is they're exploring both a private sale and a public offering.


Tyson (TSN) foods is down sharply after releasing a very disappointing earnings report within the past half hour. The company posted profits of 36-cents a share when estimates were for 45-cents. It also missed considerably on revenues. The stock has been up 25% year to date, but is trading about 6% lower on this news. Tyson has been contending with increasing costs due to drought conditions, which have increased the cost of animal feed.

Next is Vornado (VNO), which reports after the closing bell. This is the real estate investment trust that had one of the largest stakes in JCPenney (JCP) but unloaded millions of shares amid the recent turmoil at the retailer. Vornado is expected to post both earnings and revenue that are substantially down from a year ago. Nevertheless, shares of the company are trading just a few points below their 52-week high which was set 362 days ago.

Apple (AAPL) is trading higher again this morning. Shares shot up nearly 7% last week and are up nearly 15% over the past two weeks. What's propelling them higher? It could be the company's record-breaking bond issue, designed to return cash to shareholders who've seen the stock tumble from more than $700. Apple is still down 20% from a year ago. Nevermind those highs it hit last fall. But the company regained the title of "world's largest" by market capitalization last week.

Finally there's Facebook (FB). Barrons published an article this weekend saying the social network is worth no more than $25 a share, though it's currently hovering above $28. Barron's says Facebook is trading at 75 times its earnings. It also points out that increasing mobile ad revenue is coming at the expense of desktop dollars. In addition it says the company's expenses are up 60%. Even with a post earnings-report climb last week, Facebook shares are down 26% from their IPO price last may.