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Seriousness of Syria Weighs on Stocks; JPM’s Trifecta of Trouble; BlackBerry’s Plan B?

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute
Seriousness of Syria Weighs on Stocks; JPM’s Trifecta of Trouble; BlackBerry’s Plan B?

Stocks are going lower again in the premarket, following yesterday's bruising losses. Here at the NASDAQ, equities suffered their worst day of 2013 on concerns over Syria. The Dow also had its biggest drop since June, and the S&P shed 1.6%. Futures, had in fact been moving higher earlier in this morning, so what has them headed south again? Yahoo! Finance's Jeff Macke has more in the video above.

The Feds are apparently "Chase-ing" JPMorgan (JPM) on several fronts. There are three separate reports about impending action against the bank. Reuters says the Federal Finance Housing Agency is pushing for a $6-billion payout to settle lawsuits over bonds backed by subprime mortgages. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and another agency want to fine JPM $80-million for its dealings with retail customers during the recession. And The Wall Street Journal says global fines from the London Whale trading scandal could hit $600-million. Shares of JPMorgan fell 2.3% yesterday to hit their lowest level in more than two months.

A brief assortment now of headlines in corporate news: The Justice Department wants to delay its case against the merger of US Airways (LCC) and the parent of American Airlines until March from November; BlackBerry (BBRY) is mulling the spinoff of its messaging service into a subsidiary to be called BBM; The Wall Street Journal says Neiman Marcus will soliciting takeover offers as an alternative to a planned IPO; And Wal-Mart (WMT) is going to start offering health insurance to domestic partners of its employees nationwide, irrespective of state laws on same-sex marriage.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is going to ante up for the feds. The owner of casinos including the Venetian will pay more than $47-million to settle a suit with the U.S. Attorney's office in LA. The company was accused of failing to flag money transfers made by a high-roller who was trafficking drugs. The stock fell more than 3% yesterday but is up 28% over the last year.


Clothing chain Express (EXPR) is up 10% on its earnings report which came out this morning. Numbers were pretty much in line with estimates: 20-cents a share on $486.2-million dollars in sales. But both profits and revenue were up 7% from a year ago. Express operates more than 600 stores. It says same-store sales were up 6%, and is now increasing its outlook. Even before this morning, Express has had a spectacular year, with shares rising 36%. However the past month has been brutal, with a 13% plunge.

Another retailer, Wet Seal (WTSL), has been up 9% since reporting earnings after yesterday's closing bell. The chain made just a penny a share, in line with estimates. But it had lost 14-cents a share a year ago. As for revenue, it was a slight miss, but rose nearly 4%. The company operates stores under both the "Wet Seal" and "Arden B" names. Moving forward, it predicts same-store sales will rise as a result of a newly installed CEO, cut jobs, and the closing of weaker stores. The climb we're seeing now follows a 13% fall in the stock over the past three months. Still, shares are up 42% over the past year.

Avago Technologies (AVGO) has been up 7.7% since yesterday's close. Avago chips are used in Apple products, so with the rumored launch of a new iPhone, the company is predicting sales growth of 12 to 15% in the quarter ahead. The guidance came yesterday, along with earnings for the past quarter. They showed the company making 74-cents a share excluding items when consensus was for 64-cents. Revenue came in at $644-million, also beating expectations. Prior to this morning shares of Avago were up a scant three-quarters of a percent over the last year.

Facebook (FB) is trading fractionally higher. The stock fell more than 4%, dropping back below the $40-dollar, after spending about two days above that perch. Facebook's dip follows word that CFO David Ebersman is selling off shares. The revelation comes just a day after we learned COO Sheryl Sandberg is also unloading much of her stock. Facebook was up 42% year-to-date as of yesterday's close, mostly on its most recent earnings report.