The three major stock indices traded flat into the midway point of today’s session proving once again that, at least for now, investors are shrugging off any news, good or bad, out of Europe. Reports there suggest Greek officials and their European creditors may have a draft agreement to extend Greece’s bailout deal.
Walmart vs. Target
Walmart made waves yesterday when it’s new-ish CEO Doug McMillon made the wage announcement heard round the world. It really diverted attention away from a squishy-at-best quarterly earnings report.
Next week is equally new Target CEO Brian Cornell’s turn.
“What these companies have in common,” says Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke, “are two new, young CEOs and a lot of legacy issues that can be cleaned up aggressively. Wall Street loves that combination. Look for Cornell to step up next week.”
Some Wall Street companies are cutting CEO pay; but don't cry for them just yet. Citigroup's Michael Corbat's 2014 pay was cut by 10% to $13 million. Bank of America's Brian Moynihan's pay was cut by 7%
“For the rest of us the average income in this country last year was somewhere in the mid $40,000’s,” Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task points out, citing the Social Security Administration. “So you’re looking at someone making millions of dollars and you’re gonna feel bad for them because they’re income went down?”
It’s not just Wall Street CEOs feeling the “pinch.” Average wages at Goldman Sachs, for example, declined to $373,000 from $430,000 in 2010.
“The guys who ruined Wall Street walked away with the biggest pay packages in history. We fixed that problem so I think we should feel good about that,” says Yahoo Finance columnist Rick Newman, admitting that CEO pay is “probably too high” but changes aren’t coming anytime too soon to remedy that.
Apple auto rumors
Chatter continues about a possible Apple auto, maybe as soon as 2020. While Apple fanboys and girls rejoice at the Cupertino giant arriving to “save” the auto industry Rick Newman remains unimpressed for now.”To say that BMW and Mercedes aren’t innovative and it takes Apple to fix this industry is ridiculous,” he says.
For Newman “electric cars” are not the cure for any auto industry ills. Rather, hydrogen fuel cell technology is what he calls the “holy grail” for automakers. While any number of them have been working on such vehicles no one has solved the problems associated with it.
“Whoever can figure out how to, number one, get the cost of that hydrogen fuel...down to a tolerable level and then figure out how you fuel the thing because we don’t have hydrogen filling stations yet. That will transform the auto industry more than almost anything you can think of.”
What’s ahead next week?
Aaron Task is watching politics in Washington, DC where the end of the month marks the end of funding for Homeland Security. Republicans want to add provisions to a funding bill that would cut funds for President Obama’s immigration plan. Task thinks this is “the undercard to the big battle on March 15 when...we will be in technical violation of the debt ceiling if a new resolution isn’t passed.”
Rick Newman is keeping an eye again on Greece. “I love the Greek drama,” he says. “It’s not over. I think next week is going to be the week that Greece blinks and finally says ‘OK, we have to go along with the bailout terms.”