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Metals Testing Multi-Year Lows; Opportunity for Windows; Executive Held Hostage

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute
Metals Testing Multi-Year Lows; Opportunity for Windows; Executive Held Hostage

Call it a lowering of the bar. Gold is dropping to a multi-year discount in price. The precious metal has slumped to its cheapest level since the summer of 2010. It's now down an astounding 23%percent just this quarter, the steepest decline since 1920. The metal is now worth less than 2/3 of what it was when it hit an all-time high above $1,920 in September 2011. So, how low will gold go? And what about silver which is suffering too?Yahoo! Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli has more in the video above.

The final reading on first quarter GDP is a disappointment. The Commerce Department puts growth for the period at just 1.8% annually. That's down from the prior estimate of 2.4%, which is where analysts thought the final number would sit.

It's six days now that the founder of a Florida company has been held captive in China. Chip Starnes was taken hostage by his own workers, but it's not clear why. Starnes says workers who've survived a downsizing want severance packages. But there's also word that the employees haven't been paid in months. The company which is called "Specialty Medical Supplies" has just laid off a number of workers as it moves operations to India.

There's an opportunity today for Microsoft (MSFT) to patch-up its newest Windows. The company is releasing a preview version of Windows 8.1, an update to its latest operating system. It's being rolled-out just as Microsoft begins a three-day conference for developers. Shares of Microsoft are up 22% year-to-date, despite complaints about Windows 8 as well as sluggish sales for the product.


First up this morning is cereal giant General Mills (GIS) which just reported earnings. The company matched estimates posting 53-cents a share. That was with a beat on revenue, which reached $4.4 billion. The company says its gross margins have been down, due in part to exchange rates. However, it's been benefiting from several new products like Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, Yoplait Greek 100 calorie yogurt and Nature Valley Protein Bars. Shares of General Mills are up nearly 17% year-to-date, mostly on a rally in the first quarter.

Due to report at 9:30 this morning is seed-maker Monsanto (MON). The company is expected to post $1.60 a share down 3-cents from last year, but on higher revenue of about $4.4 billion. Analysts will be listening for any comment on unapproved genetically modified wheat which was found in Oregon. You may recall it led to foreign bans on the import of U.S. wheat. Prior to this morning, shares of Monsanto have been up 5% in 2013. But they had quite a rally late last fall and are up 30% over the past year. By the way, one quick note: another big company reporting today is Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) which releases numbers after the closing bell.

Right now we have a look at Apollo Group (APOL) which reported after yesterday's closing bell and is now down 5% in early trading. At one point, it had moved 6% higher. Here may be the reason for the swing: The company easily beat on earnings posting $1.05 a share, but it missed on revenue and has also lowered its outlook. Prior to the movement we're seeing this morning, shares are down a fit-inducing 46% this year.

Finally, we've got Synaptics (SYNA) which has been trading as much as 15% higher in extended hours. Synaptics makes the chips for touchscreens used by Samsung, Blackberry(BBRY) and HTC. It has upped its outlook citing stronger-than-expected sales of smartphones. Prior to this morning, shares have been up 26% over the last year. They hit an all-time high near the end of April.