Tuesday, February 3, 2009

YUM/Inhabitants of the Alternate Universe/Banks are Dying

 The profit from MetLife reported today was primarily due to 1.6 billion in derivative gains.  I am comfortable for now holding METPRA. Yahoo! Finance

Jonathan Alter wrote an article that sounds like many of my recent posts. Maybe he is reading my posts or maybe he is just my long lost twin brother. Newsweek.com  He added a new tidbit. In a recent poll, 46% of the Wall Street wizards thought they deserved a bigger bonus.  Just more people living in some kind of alternate universe.  

Speaking of inhabitants of an alternate universe, the most biased authors, possibly in the world, congregate at the web site- www.newsbusters.org-which is devoted to exposing bias in the "liberal" media.  I read it just for the entertainment value which is generally considerable for me.  Maybe I am just easily entertained. The lead article tonight seemed to be equating the Associated Press with Pravda during the Stalin period. 

I really do wish sometimes that I could be both ignorant and stupid.  It would make life simpler, and there would be less things to worry about, except for the communists taking over the government using their secure beachheads in the AP pressrooms to cloud people's minds like that comic book character The Shadow. The Shadow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I became acquainted with the site when an acquaintance cited an article in it as an authoritative rebuttal to a series of well established and reliable facts.  After reading it, I could not help myself except to smile and just say Wow. 

I do not own any casual dining stocks or retailers.  If I had to pick a restaurant chain, I would consider buying YUM for two reasons.  It owns inexpensive casual dining chains. The brands are Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell.  I can eat well at Taco Bell without a drink for less than two bucks.   The second reason is that about 60% of its sales come from overseas with China being its primary growth market.  For the last quarter revenue rose 4% but earnings were impacted as you would expect from unfavorable currency exchange due to the strength in the dollar.   WSJ.com
Excluding foreign exchange, sales in China grew 15%.  The company earned $.46 per share excluding a 3 cent restructuring charge compared to $.44 in the year earlier period. Yum! Brands Inc. Reports Strong Full Year 2008 EPS Growth of 14% or $1.91 Per Share, Excluding Special Items and Fourth Quarter Operating Profit Growth of 17%, Excluding Special Items: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
I am just monitoring the stock.  As with many securities, my interest may perk up some in the event of a serious downward swoon in YUM's price.  

I looked at some of the formerly large regional bank stock prices after the close today.  Regions Financial fell under $3 to $2.61RF: Summary for REGIONS FINANCIAL CP - Yahoo! Finance
Suntrust (STI) fell over 16% to $10.02.STI: Summary for SUNTRUST BANKS - Yahoo! Finance
It is just hard to believe that STI has a 3.5 billion dollar market cap.  Fifth Third (FITB) fell almost 15% to $1.79FITB: Summary for Fifth Third Bancorp - Yahoo! Finance  It now has a 1 billion dollar market cap.  Colonial BancGroup (CNB) does not look so hot at less than a buck, closing at a mere 62 cents a share. CNB: Summary for COLONIAL BANCGROUP - Yahoo! Finance Of course, Wachovia has disappeared into Wells Fargo and National City had to be acquired by PNC.  It looks like some of these shot gun marriages have weakened some of the stronger banks. PNC Yahoo! Finance  J P Morgan had to acquire the largest savings and loan, Washington Mutual, before it vaporized.  It looks worse when you lump in Bank of America and Citigroup whose combined market value is less than 50 billion     (26.6 billion for BAC at closing price on 2/3/09 of $5.3; 18.86 billion for Citi)  I got depressed just looking at some of these numbers.   In case this is news to some of the "conservatives",  and it probably is, our banking system is in a precarious condition, and the market is signaling that the 750 billion bailout has not remedied the wreckage one bit.  I am still optimistic, however, that the narrow minded  and blind will not win the battle on what needs to be done.  But, if I am reading the tea leaves correctly about the market's message, which seems to be loud and clear to me at least, there is not much time left to dicker about it.   

I would agree that the numerous stumbles made by the Beanpole in the past week will hurt his hurt his standing among some independents. The Fix  His approval ratings are still high however.  I will try to remember to see whether the next poll reflects a lower approval rating than the last one which was 66%.  

This is a link to another article about people who receive favorable loan modifications on their mortgages falling behind in their payments quickly again after receiving the modification.  washingtonpost.com

I do not own Mastercard or Visa but thought that this was an interesting article on how lower gas prices impacts them.   Barrons.com

This is a link to Emerson's earnings call transcript.  Seeking Alpha

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