Ken Lewis Pulls a Jeff Skilling


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One of the most entertaining parts of watching former corporate titans under investigation is watching them invoke the “I’m stupid” defense.

When he appeared before Congress to discuss the collapse of Enron and the company’s phony accounting, Jeff Skilling’s defense consisted of “I’m not an accountant.”

Continue reading Ken Lewis Pulls a Jeff Skilling

Ken Lewis Pulls a Jeff Skilling originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 16:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cracking Open Goldman Sachs’s Code of Secrecy


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Goldman Sachs has withdrawn its lawsuit against the seven former employees in its private wealth-management group who left for Credit Suisse.

Everett Collection

As Deal Journal reported Thursday, Goldman had alleged, among other things, that the seven employees from its Atlanta office had contacted numerous clients after abruptly leaving the firm and asked them to move their accounts to Credit Suisse. Goldman sought a restraining order to temporarily prevent the former employees from soliciting Goldman clients and employees, among other relief, while it proceeded with a separate arbitration claim related to the matter.

Goldman declined to comment about its decision to drop lawsuit, other than to say the matter has been resolved.

Still, the suit provided insight into Goldman’s corporate culture. Exhibits accompanying the complaint included Goldman’s employee rulebook about preserving confidentiality. The document shows the extent to which Goldman goes to keep information secret, something Goldman’s clients certainly welcome, but to the average reader not in the securities industry might seem as if the manual was written by Ian Fleming.

Consider these excerpts from the rulebook:

On Telephone Security:

Avoid using cellular or cordless telephones to discuss confidential business matters. Such devices are radio transmitters and are frequently monitored by hobbyists and professional information brokers.

Do not use a speakerphone when discussing proprietary or confidential information unless you are in a secure place. These phones have the potential of being overheard.

More on cellphone usage:

Assume your cellular and portable telephone transmissions are being overheard and/or recorded. Given the widespread availability of scanners, cellular telephone conversations are now routinely monitors by third parties. In particular, the securities industry has become a popular target for those seeking unauthorized access to confidential information.

Security when outside the office:

Use care when working on confidential documents on any airplane, subway, railway, or other public conveyance.

Curtail confidential conversation in elevators, taxis, or limousines, and in public setting outside the office, such as social gatherings. If you must discuss confidential information outside a secure office, use code words to identify any key players.


The oligarch list


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From Finans magazine, a list of rich Russians.  Commentary (in Russian) here and an unsatisfactory Google translation is available here.

Note the toppling of Roman Abramovich,…

Closing Bell: When Confusion Is Felt by All (APOL, CPST, DELL, FSLR, SII, SLB)


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Confusion … That is how traders and investors interpreted today. The Fed raised the discount rate to 0.75% from 0.5% but did not raise the Fed Funds Rate. The Federal Reserve governors were also somehow able to put it into everyone’s head that Fed Funds may stay here at the near-zero for some time and that this was part of many steps in an unwinding of the major liquidity events of the last 18 months. We had a very tame CPI report, a welcoming sign after a heated PPI yesterday. So it is just wholesale inflation for now. But a CNBC headline described today perfectly: “Markets Misread Fed’s Rate Move as Central Bank Stumbles.”

Here were today’s unofficial closing levels:

Dow 10,402.35 +9.45 (0.09%)
S&P 500 1,109.17 +2.42 (0.22%)
Nasdaq 2,243.87 +2.16 (0.10%)

Top Analyst Calls

Continue reading Closing Bell: When Confusion Is Felt by All (APOL, CPST, DELL, FSLR, SII, SLB)

Closing Bell: When Confusion Is Felt by All (APOL, CPST, DELL, FSLR, SII, SLB) originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 16:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Goodyear May Have Had a Good Q4, but I’m Not Buying


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Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) beat the projections on Wall Street this week by a comfortable margin. The call was for a loss of 9 cents per share in the fourth quarter. Would you believe that, on an adjusted basis, Goodyear actually delivered a profit? A profit of 14 cents per share?

You can check out a summary of the release at DailyFinance. Yeah, it appears as if the analysts were a little bit off this reporting period. Then again, I wouldn’t blame them for being pessimistic. Back in October, all indicators pointed to a tough Q4 for the company. The stock was hammered at the time.

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Goodyear May Have Had a Good Q4, but I’m Not Buying originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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February Jobs Report May Be Impacted by Blizzards


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The February jobs report may look worse than is actually the case thanks to foul winter weather, according to a report from forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers.

That’s because the February blizzard, which laid feet of snow across the country and brought business to a virtual standstill across the Midwest and Northeast, kept many workers from getting to the office and likely pushed new hiring into the following month. The blizzard occurred during the periods when both the Household and Establishment Surveys were conducted, meaning it could affect both the jobs tally and the unemployment rate. Of course, those jobs would resurface in the March jobs report.

Using the January 1996 blizzard as a benchmark, Macroeconomic Advisers’ estimates that the March 5th jobs report would have 66,000 fewer jobs than it would otherwise have. However, because there was a lot more snow this month than in January 1996 – and because snow delays lasted almost an entire week in some places and occurred precisely at the time when Labor Department is taking measurements – the effect could be much bigger.

“I think it could be big – it could be 100,000″ jobs, says Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers.


Microsoft and Yahoo! Cleared to Bounce Heads off Google


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U.S. and European regulators have finally cleared the way for a concentrated search partnership between Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo! (YHOO). The tandem effort, which involves making Microsoft’s Bing the search engine for MS and Yahoo sites, is said to give the team 30% market share of U.S. search traffic. The intention, of course, is to throw some credible competition at search giant Google (GOOG).

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Microsoft and Yahoo! Cleared to Bounce Heads off Google originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 15:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Scotts Miracle-Gro: Get Ready for Green Shoots


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The shares of Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), first discussed here on May 20, 2009 at a price of $34.88, have retreated in the past two months, but I still like business model and the shares. Here’s why:

Look for adequate-to-good organic sales growth (pun intended) with SMG, as the U.S. housing sector continues to stabilize. Rising demand for lawn/garden products in the U.S. (about 80% of revenue) should be followed by a slower recovery in international sales (about 20% of revenue). Also encouraging: the Europe market appears to be on the mend.

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Scotts Miracle-Gro: Get Ready for Green Shoots originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 15:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Philips: A Bright Investment Idea


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Koninklijke Philips Electronics, commonly known as Philips (PHG), first written about here on June 2, 2009 at a price of $20.30, is a company I’ve liked for awhile, and there’s still more upside ahead.

In its most recent quarter, Philips reported a widening of operating margins, along with impressive sales in China and India, whose markets did yeoman work bucking the recession’s headwinds.

Continue reading Philips: A Bright Investment Idea

Philips: A Bright Investment Idea originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Fri, 19 Feb 2010 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Turn on the Light, and Watch the Bankers Scurry


This post is by from Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed


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Informative graphic out based on LinkedIn data showing how bankers/traders found new employment during the system collapse of their former employers in 2008. Look at the figure from top to bottom, appropriately enough.

image1

One hypothesis is that many of the employees left the financial industry.  According to the LinkedIn data set, that just isn’t true. There are a handful of people that did transition to other industries and start new careers, but most stayed in the financial space. To be specific, other than two acquiring companies (Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch and Nomura acquired Lehman Brothers’ franchise in the Asia Pacific region), Barclays was by far the biggest beneficiary, scooping up 10% of the laid off talent, followed by Credit Suisse at 1.5% and Citigroup at 1.1 %.

[via LinkedIn]


Amazon: Bezos Sells 2 Million Shares, Raises $234.8 Million


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Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos disclosed in an SEC filing that he sold 2 million shares of the company’s stock on Monday and Tuesday, generating proceeds of $234.8 million. The shares were sold at prices ranging from $115.57 to $120.30 each.

Bezos now holds 92,158,027 shares, a position worth $10.8 billion.

The shares were sold under a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan.

AMZN today is down 68 cents, or 0.6%, to $117.40.