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Weekly Jobless Claims Despite Shutdown; Ackman Changing His Bets: BlackBerry Bidders

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute
Weekly Jobless Claims Despite Shutdown; Ackman Changing His Bets: BlackBerry Bidders

Three is not exactly looking like the charm in the government shutdown. We're beginning the third day of this national debacle with no sign of progress at all. Markets overseas have been relatively flat today, but futures here are heading lower again on the shutdown. Here's the latest: Democrats and Republicans agree they made no substantive progress during a meeting with President Obama yesterday; the main issue in the stalemate revolves around a GOP plan to defund the national health care overhaul; as a result of the shutdown, the monthly jobs report for September won't be released tomorrow. However, weekly jobless claims are being released right now. Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Mike Santoli reports on them in the video above.

Bill Ackman is backing off his bet against Herbalife (HLF). In a letter to investors of his Pershing Square Hedge Fund, Ackman writes, "In recent weeks we have restructured the position by reducing our short equity position by more than 40% and replacing it with long-term derivatives." Ackman attacked the company last year, publicly labeling it a pyramid scheme and announcing a $1-billion short bet against the business. So far he's been off. Herbalife shares are up 22% in the past month. And that's nothing compared to their gains so far this year. The stock is now up 127%.

Several private equity firms may be shopping for BlackBerry (BBRY). The Wall Street Journal reports that Cerberus Capital Management is among at least two companies that could make an offer for the fallen phone maker. Cerberus specializes in buying distressed companies, most notably Chrysler before the financial meltdown. Keep in mind, Blackberry claims it already has a tentative buyout offer fmor shareholder Fairfax Financia. BlackBerry shares are up nearly 2% this morning, following a fractional climb yesterday. They're down a bruising 22% over the past month.


Tesla (TSLA) is tanking on a YouTube video that shows one of its Model S sedans on fire. It has been down more than 3% in premarket trading. That's on top of a 6% loss during yesterday's regular session. Nevertheless, the stock remains up more than 400% so far this year, giving the company a market cap of $22-billion. Tesla has issued a statement on this fire. A company rep says it was caused when that metal debris directly hit one of 16 modules within the car's battery pack. The company also says the flames were isolated by fire barriers within the car and were therefore contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle

Beverage company Constellation Brands (STZ) has just served-up earnings this morning. The company posted adjusted earnings of 96-cents a share, beating estimates which were for 88-cents. Revenues missed just slightly at $1.52 billion. The company says it was helped by the acquisition of Grupo Modelo's U.S. beer business from Anheuser Busch. Lots to toast for owners of Constellation stock. It's up 55% year-to-date, and hit a new all-time high just a few weeks ago.

Online referral service Angie's List (ANGI) is currently down 10% in early trading. The Wall Street Journal reports that Angie's List has cut its subscription price to $10 in a number of key cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. That's a 75% discount on the regular price of $40. It has been a wild week so far for the stock. It dropped 10% on Tuesday after the announcement that the company's Chief Technology Officer was out the door. There was a however, a bounceback of 3.5% yesterday. The stock is up 102% over the past year, and about 29% since it went public at the end of 2011.

Finally, three stocks which all began trading yesterday after holding IPOs. Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) which includes the Empire State Building rose just less than .4%, but is up fractionally again this morning. Then there's real estate agency Re/Max (RMAX). It gained nearly 3%. And finally, Burlington Stores (BURL), the parent of Burlington Coat Factory. It climbed 8.5% and is up again at this hour. At one point during yesterday's session, Burlington shares had been up 50% as they rapidly changed hands. By the way, the company was bought by Bain Capital back in 2006. Bain plans to retain a 74% stake in Burlington for now.