Saturday, April 25, 2009

CB & L Properties/GIS/McCain on Waterboarding/

It looks like Tyler will be going to Northwestern.

CB & L Properties (CBL), one of the lottery ticket purchases, rose almost 16% last Friday after Goldman Sachs raised it to a conviction buy and increased the price target to $10 from $4. Yahoo! Finance  The GS analyst believes the debt maturities in 2009 and 2010 are manageable. This retail mall REIT is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has a large presence in Middle Tennessee.  I have discussed it in several prior posts.  I am more concerned about its debt load which is why I classified it as a lottery purchase and thereby limited the amount of capital exposed to it.  I am reinvesting the dividends and the last reinvestment price was on 4/15/09 at $3.1 per share and CB & L closed at $7.88 on 4/24 ( the date of payment is frequently a few days after the time shares are bought).  I also own shares of CBLPRC which had been under water until recently.  
I also discussed an earlier downgrade of CBL by GS to sell:BAC/ DEMs Being Dems/HRPT PROPERTIES/ DRIVING HABITS IN THE SUV CAPITAL
I am not aware of any meaningful information that occurred between that sell recommendation and the buy, other than a decision to pay the last common stock dividend partly in stock.

Barron's had a positive article on General Mills, a recent add of mine.
The last quarter's earnings report was a disappointment with earnings falling to 79 cents from 87 cents in the year ago quarter, but GIS did raise its forecast by a few pennies for the fiscal year ending in May.Hedge Funds Receive Bailout Cash/General Mills/Lottery Tickets & NADX
The primary angle in the Barron's article is General Mill's growth in China, where revenues increased 30% last year to 250 million.  Powell, the CEO of GIS, maintains that the underlying business was actually stronger last quarter, and the year ago period was helped by "unusual grain-merchandising gains".  Page 21 of the 10-K says that earnings for the last quarter benefited by 13 cents from a mark-to-market of commodity positions compared to 27 cents in the year ago quarter (p. 21)  I did read some pertinent product information from last quarter's 10-K filing that does indicate relatively strong revenue growth for a packaged food company, where 3% growth is close to the norm.    In the U.S. market the Big G division was up 13% and Pillsbury sales rose 15%.  Yoplait, my lunch everyday, rose 7% and baking products increased 16% (see p. 25:  10-Q)  
Lower revenues however were realized in the food service segment (p.26)  Like other U.S. multi-nationals, GIS was hurt by the strength in the dollar. Overall sales grew 4% and 7% after excluding unfavorable foreign currency adjustments.  Rising commodity prices also hurt.  

Cheney is requesting the release of two reports from the CIA in his V-P archives that allegedly support the effectiveness of the torture promoted by the Bush Administration.  I am always the skeptical sort so I focused on two interesting facts from this request. First, they were in his files and were issued on 7/13/2004 and  6/1/2005, or several years after the torture. The timing itself makes them suspicious along with the coincidence of interest between Cheney and the CIA to justify the actions taken by them.   My initial reaction in their timing and placement gives them the appearance of "cover our ass memos".   The Obama administration will take up to 3 weeks to determine whether those memos can be declassified.  The FBI Director is already on records saying no plots were foiled by "enhanced" interrogations.

During the campaign McCain said the U.S. does not use waterboarding.   CBS News He later
said that Japanese had been hanged after WWII for torturing American prisoners with waterboarding.  CBS News  He said then that America was a better nation than to use a technique perfected during the Spanish inquisition and used by the infamous Pol Pot as an instrument of torture.  So W did not apparently tell Big Mac about waterboarding prisoners by the CIA.  If I was W, I would not have told him either.  Mac also said after the release of the torture memos that "waterbording was torture period."

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