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  • Waiting for the Picture to Clear

    By Rev Shark
    RealMoney.com Contributor
    3/14/2006 9:07 AM EST

    "A gentle breeze blowing in the right direction is better than a pair of strong oars."
    -- Spanish Proverb

    We have a very muddled market. Direction is not clear, which means we have to be particular careful about imposing our market bias on the action. There is always an inclination to see things in a way to best support our prevailing views but in a market like this we need to work extra hard at staying objective. Both bulls and bears have been frustrated lately because there really is no trend. There is no breeze at our back and no matter how hard we might paddle, the market simply laughs at the folks who flail around demanding that certain scenarios play out.

    The market beast doesn't care one bit about what we think or do, and fighting and struggling is unproductive, tiring and a good way to drain our capital. So what do we do when there is no clear direction? Do we try to guess how things might develop?

    A lot of folks enjoy that game and you can spend your entire day reading a variety of predictions if you so choose. There are some great bears who will convince you that we are heading to the depths and there are some astute bulls who will convince us that blue skies and apple pies are just around the corner. You can easily find some brilliant commentary to confirm whatever it is you want to think.

    The problem is that we have no real trend right now. The Nasdaq is at the same place it was way back on Nov. 23. Market direction is a guess right now. We could roll over and head down, or find support and start trending back up. There is little edge so what we need to do is watch until we get a better one.

  • Mind see enam ei üllata
    Beer for life
    Tuesday March 14, 8:20 am ET

    With St. Patrick's Day and March Madness soon upon us, Americans probably don't need any more reasons to toss back a few beers. But we'll give you some anyway.
    Researchers in Austria and the Czech Republic -- two nations that drink more than their fair share of suds -- have just released studies that suggest that beer is an anti-inflammatory and can slow the aging process.


    In a study published in the March issue of International Immunopharmacology, scientists at Austria's Innsbruck Medical University found that hops, a key ingredient in beer, affect the production of neopterin, a telltale sign of inflammation, and levels of the amino acid tryptophan (low levels are associated with more inflammation.)

    Like red wine and green tea, whose health benefits have been widely reported, beer was found to reduce neopterin production and suppress degradation of tryptophan, according to the study. (Tryptophan is also commonly cited as the reason people feel tired after gorging on Thanksgiving turkey.)

    "This suppression might be connected with the calming effect of beer," the researchers note, "since its normalizing effect on the tryptophan balance improves the availability of the 'happiness hormone' serotonin." And who wouldn't want happiness to be more available?

    The Austrians noted, of course, that their findings should not be construed as an encouragement to drink alcohol. (Not that anyone would take it as such. No sir.)

    Over in the Czech Republic, doctors have found that moderate beer consumption slows aging and reduces the likelihood of heart attacks in men.

    Beer not only increased levels of HDL or so-called "good cholesterol," but also thwarted dangerous free radicals in the body that are believed to accelerate the progression of cardiovascular and age-related diseases.

    We should note that the Czech study was paid for by a group of big Czech breweries. We should also note that Czech doctors, in an earlier, separate study, once reported that two beers a day could fight impotence.

    Meanwhile, the stagnant US beer industry received some good news as sales of craft beers like Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head rose 9 percent in 2005, outpacing the growth of wine, spirits and even imported beer, which grew 7.2 percent over the same period.

    Industry experts cited better distribution networks and more sophisticated consumer tastes as reasons behind the sales surge.

    "People are drinking less these days, but they are drinking better beers," said Steve Hindy, founder and president of Brooklyn Brewery, which grew sales 18 percent last year to over 53,000 barrels.

    The news was not so good for large domestic brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors, however. A new survey of beer wholesalers by Goldman Sachs found that the industry is unlikely to return to the growth rates it enjoyed between 1997 and 2004, when profits rose between 5 percent and 10 percent annually.

    Instead, Goldman forecasts profit growth of just 1 percent this year, although the wholesalers are optimistic that conditions should improve down the road. Anheuser-Busch certainly hopes so: Its profits declined 18 percent last year on flat sales.

    "We remain concerned about [the company's] ability to successfully grow volumes and improve pricing," wrote analyst Judy Hong in a March 13 report. (Hong has an "underperform" rating on Anheuser-Busch.)

    The wholesalers were more enthusiastic about beer companies' latest efforts to fend off wine and spirits, which have been successful at wooing younger drinkers over the past few years. Co-sponsored by the Beer Institute, the campaign included humorous Super Bowl ads and a Web site entitled "Here's to Beer" that plays up beer's heritage as a social drink.

    The site even has recipes for beer cocktails or "beertails," like the Michelada (beer, two dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of soy sauce, Tabasco, black pepper and lemon).

    No offense, but come St. Patrick's Day, we'll stick with a good old pint of Guinness.
  • Paar head lugu kah täna:

    With its $14.6 billion acquisition of the North Fork Bancorporation, Capital One is looking less like a credit card company and more like a traditional bank. But will Wall Street approve?

    For years, the success of Capital One, the country's largest stand-alone credit card issuer, rested on its uncanny ability to innovate, from new products (like zero-interest balance transfers) to new marketing (like a series of clever Viking ads).

    Now, in retail banking, success will depend on its unproven ability to integrate.

    The deal, which was announced yesterday, vaults Capital One to one of the top 10 banks in the nation in terms of deposits and gives it a large presence in the Northeast. The combined company will have deposits of more than $84 billion, a managed- loan portfolio of more than $143 billion and 655 branch locations.

    As a card company, the deposits will provide the company a cheaper form of financing at a time when interest rates are high and competition has squeezed profits.

    But as a bank, Capital One remains second-tier: it will not even be within striking distance of bigger rivals like Bank of America and J. P. Morgan Chase, which have far more locations and higher deposit levels.

    And Capital One's last big retail bank deal is still unfinished business.

    Last fall, Capital One, which is based in McLean, Va., spent $4.9 billion to buy Hibernia National Bank, gaining its first foothold in the retail banking business with 300 branches in fast-growing areas of Louisiana and Texas. But shortly before the deal was to close, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast.

    Not only did the storms delay the transaction, they added disaster cleanup and recovery to an already long laundry list of post-merger tasks.

    "We didn't plan to make another acquisition in such a short time frame after acquiring Hibernia," Richard D. Fairbank, Capital One's chief executive, said in an interview yesterday. "A lot of planets were aligning to make this deal happen."

    "Clearly, we have a lot on our plate right now. It will be our highest priority to complete the integration of these banks," he added. "We know it is going to be a lot of work."

    John A. Kanas, who orchestrated 14 acquisitions during his long tenure as North Fork's chairman and chief executive, will join Capital One to oversee the integration and banking operations of the newly combined company.

    But even with seasoned managers and the right strategy, some analysts wonder if the timing is right. "It is a doable deal, but there is a lot of risk pulling it off," said David A. Hendler, an analyst at CreditSights, an independent research firm based in New York. "It's a heavy chore for Capital One and North Fork."

    Shares of Capital One fell nearly 8 percent, or $6.82, to $83.10, their sharpest single-day decline since July 2003. Shares of North Fork, which is based in Melville, N.Y., jumped 15 percent, or $3.80, to $29.20.

    Under the agreement, North Fork shareholders will receive cash or stock valued at $31.18 a North Fork share, which represents a 22.8 percent premium over the closing price on Friday of North Fork shares.

    The high premium may lead other regional banks to consider putting themselves up for sale.

    The North Fork deal is part of a strategy that Capital One has been pursuing for years. Facing higher borrowing and marketing costs and a slowdown in the industry's overall growth, nearly all other stand-alone credit card companies have been snapped up by larger competitors. But Mr. Fairbank has long maintained that it was better to remain independent and broaden its reach.

    "I have believed that the winning formula in banking is to compete nationally in national-scale businesses, and to compete locally in local businesses," Mr. Fairbank said. "And to know the differences."

    Capital One, which has excelled at reaching consumers through direct mail, plans to take advantage of North Fork's branches as well as its expertise in attracting small and midsize business customers.

    It also hopes to put its marketing muscle behind its products, hoping to ramp up sales of mortgages and home equity loans. Starting sometime next year, all North Fork branches will adopt the more widely recognized Capital One name.

    "Part of the value of Capital One was the marketing machine," Mr. Kanas said in an interview yesterday. "To do this without a consolidated brand would be, frankly, silly."

    With so little overlap between the companies, Capital One expects the deal to start generating pretax benefits of about $275 million in 2008.

    Besides potential integration problems, there are other risks. For North Fork, the deal is the final chapter for the small Long Island community bank that transformed itself through a series of acquisitions into one of the New York market's major players. Over the last decade or so, it has been highly successful. But with a flat yield curve in interest rates, a slowdown in the mortgage market, and intense New York area competition, its long-term prospects have recently been dim.

    That is perhaps why Mr. Kanas put North Fork up for sale. And it is also why it may be a risky bet that Capital One can help change course.

    SHAREHOLDERS of the London Stock Exchange are reacting to the prospect of a takeover in the shorthand of the Wild West: Bring it on.

    While the exchange's shareholders had previously shrugged at offers from would-be acquirers like the Deutsche Börse and the Macquarie Bank of Australia, they made clear yesterday that they were ready for merger talks to begin, either with the Nasdaq Stock Market, whose $4.1 billion offer the exchange rejected on Friday, or the New York Stock Exchange.

    Shares of the London market surged by more than 30 percent, and its biggest stockholder said it was prepared to consider offers from suitors.

    Nasdaq's offer, which was not a formal bid, may force the management of the London exchange to come to the negotiating table earlier than it had hoped, analysts and investors here said yesterday. The exchange has pledged to pay more than £500 million ($866 million) in dividends to investors by the end of May, and planned before the bid to put off talks about any deals until then.

    Now, investors expect that Nasdaq will come forward with a higher offer or that the New York Stock Exchange will enter the bidding. Analysts estimate that Nasdaq can afford to sweeten its offer by as much as 50 percent.

    "This reflects openly what has been talked about quietly for some time," said Angela Knight, chief executive of the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers, a group with about 70 corporate members here.

    Shares of the London exchange closed at £11.49, up £2.69, and 21 percent above Nasdaq's indicated offer of £9.50. Shares of Nasdaq slipped 0.6 percent yesterday, while the Big Board's parent, the NYSE Group, surged 9 percent.

    The market's "valuation is beginning to reflect current realities," Michael Taylor, head of equities at Threadneedle Investments, the London exchange's largest investor with 13.8 percent of the shares, said in a statement yesterday.

    "We are now willing to discuss proposals with interested parties." Another big shareholder, Scottish Widows, also said it was ready to discuss a takeover.

    A tie-up with a leading American exchange is considered by many shareholders to be the preferred outcome for the London market. Attempts in the past to combine with the Frankfurt stock exchange and a pan-European player, Euronext, were quashed by politics, disagreements about price, management and where such an exchange would be based. A Macquarie bid was dismissed as too low.

    As the market in Europe's leading financial center, the London exchange has always managed to corner a lot of Europe's equity listing business. But its emphasis on attracting emerging-market clients in recent years has given it the edge over its New York counterparts, making a cross-Atlantic pairing more attractive.

    Companies from Russia and China have spurned New York listings for the London exchange in recent months. In addition, London's small-capitalization market, AIM, has been booming, and at the end of 2005 had almost 1,400 listings with a combined value of £56.6 billion.

    Part of the reason those companies are coming, though, lies in the differences between London and New York, differences that London exchange shareholders say will need to be preserved if any deal goes through.

    The greater regulatory oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission and others in the United States since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in 2002 has proved unpopular with international companies. Any deal between New York and London would need to carefully spell out regulatory boundaries, London investors said.

    American bidders for the London exchange "shouldn't underestimate how much the S.E.C, is going to be considered a detractor," Ms. Knight warned. When it comes to accounting standards and regulation of public companies, she said, "the rest of the world is neither like America nor does it see America as the country it needs to emulate."

    The London market is a "critical part of London's financial infrastructure," said Michael Charlton, chief executive of Think London, the city's foreign direct investment agency. An important factor in getting an bid through is assuring shareholders and local officials that the London exchange will "keep that international focus," Mr. Charlton said.

    But others close to the political process were happy to entertain the general idea of a New York takeover. "The whole success of the City of London over the years has been its openness," said Michael Snyder, the chairman of the policy and resources committee of London's financial center. "The business will still be done here as long as it stays competitive and efficient."

    Negotiations about price are expected to be tough. European stock exchanges traditionally trade at substantially lower multiples than their American counterparts, vexing European investors and market managers. Before the Nasdaq bid, for example, the London market was trading at 20.8 times estimated 2006 earnings, and the Nasdaq at 68.1 times estimates.

    "No European exchange is going to want to accept anything below the multiple where their American counterparts are trading," said Guy de Blonay, the manager of New Star Asset Management's financials fund.

    The London exchange, for its part, had no official comment yesterday. One executive there, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the discussions, said that "we are not for sale, but there is a price at which we might be forced to consider" reaching a deal.

    An implanted device that repairs a congenital heart defect can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, but does not prevent the migraines altogether, according to preliminary results from the first rigorous clinical trial of the device for migraine therapy.

    Although the product's maker, NMT Medical, called the preliminary findings promising, the results disappointed investors because NMT had been seeking a definitive finding that the device could stop the headaches. Shares of the company, which is based in Boston, plunged nearly 33 percent in heavy trading yesterday after the findings were announced, closing at $14.04.

    The clinical trial, which took place in Britain, used NMT Medical's StarFlex device to close a hole between the upper chambers of the heart that as many as 25 percent of adults have from birth. Besides being linked to some types of strokes, the hole has been associated with migraine attacks among people having the congenital condition.

    While the study missed its main goal of showing that closing the hole could halt migraines, it found that 42 percent of the patients reported at least a 50 percent decline in the number of days they had headaches, nearly twice as many as in the control group that did not get the device.

    That result, according to doctors, analysts and NMT competitors who heard the report yesterday morning at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Atlanta, reinforced the belief that there is a real if poorly understood link between the holes and migraine. "That would be a good outcome in a migraine drug trial," said John Barr, chief executive of AGA Medical, which will shortly begin migraine trials in the United States and Europe for its own closure device.

    NMT Medical said the results would be useful in designing further clinical trials. Analysts have forecast a potential multibillion-dollar market for the closure devices. More than 30 million Americans suffer various types of migraine attacks each year. Amit Hazan, who follows devices for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, calculates that 1.5 million Americans and twice that many people in the rest of the world could be candidates for such devices.

    "The flurry of activity in the investment community has been unbelievable," said Dr. Robert Sommer, a cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "I've been getting four or five calls a week looking for investment advice."

    The British study was smaller, with just 147 patients, and shorter, with just a six-month horizon, than regulators in Europe or the United States would require before approving such a therapy. The investigators, who rushed to analyze the data for presentation in Atlanta, said that many more details would be reported on at a major neurology meeting in three weeks. They noted that the number of patients who benefited grew over time and that they had found a higher-than-forecast correlation between patients with large holes and severe migraines.

    "This study significantly increases our understanding of those patients who might benefit from cardiac intervention to treat these debilitating headaches," said Dr. Peter Wilmshurst, the cardiologist who was a co-leader of the trial with Dr. Andrew Dowson, a headache specialist at Kings College Hospital in London.

    The heart defect closed by the device is known as patent foramen ovale, or P.F.O. The opening, which is often a flap of tissue that is pushed open in times of stress rather than a continuously open hole, can allow blood to slip into the left chamber and be pumped into the body — including the brain — without first being filtered by the lungs.

    The opening is part of normal circulation during fetal development but usually gets sealed as the heart matures. Cardiologists implant the closure device using long catheters inserted in the groin and threaded through the circulatory system.

    Researchers began to suspect in the 1990's that the P.F.O. played a role in the 150,000 or so strokes each year in this country that occur for no apparent reason — roughly 40 percent of the total in the United States. Data showed that people under 55 with the condition were more likely than the general population to suffer a stroke, but that stroke victims who underwent P.F.O. closure were less likely to suffer a second stroke.

    The stroke connection was spotlighted when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel was diagnosed with P.F.O. after a mild stroke on Dec. 18; he was scheduled for a closure procedure in early January. The day before the planned procedure, Mr. Sharon suffered a second stroke that put him in the coma from which he has yet to emerge. Doctors say, though, that the second stroke was not the type linked to P.F.O., so closure would not have protected him from it.

    The possible P.F.O. link to migraines was discovered when doctors began sharing stories of patients being treated to reduce stroke risks who thanked them for curing their migraine headaches. And in 2000, Dr. Wilmshurst reported similar unexpected migraine relief for scuba divers who had holes in their heart closed to minimize decompression risks.

    The trial whose results were presented yesterday focused on patients who experience so-called migraine with aura — hallucinations or other optical warning signs before their attacks. The trial is formally named MIST, for Migraine Intervention with StarFlex Technology.
  • Sellist pessimismi siis külvatakse Euroopas.Sama hästi oleks võinud öelda et me ei tahagi minna.Pole siis ime et skandinaavlased fonde tühjendavad.All epli artikkel:

    Eesti rahandusminister Aivar Sõerd ütles teisipäeval, et inflatsioonikriteeriumi mittetäitmise tõttu ei lähe Eesti 2007. aasta 1. jaanuarist tõenäoliselt üle Euroopa Liidu ühisrahale euro.

    «Üleminek [eurole] 1. jaanuaril 2007 on suuresti ebatõenäoline,» ütles Sõerd Brüsselis pärast euroliidu rahandusministrite kohtumist ajakirjanikele.

    Minister lisas, et inflatsioonitaseme ennustusi arvesse võttes otsustab Eesti valitsus aprillis, kas muudab ametlikult eurole ülemineku eesmärki.

    Praegu täidab Eesti kõik eurole üleminekuks vajalikud kriteeriumid, välja arvatud inflatsioonitas
  • Mul on üks ettepanek: kui postitad väga pika võõrkeelse teksti, siis võiksid teha sellest pisikese emakeelse kokkuvõtte (jutt käib siis kasutajate arkok ja SideKick aadressil). Sellest võiks saada hea tava. Või olen ma ainuke, kes pikka teksti lugeda ei viitsi?
  • Kuidas saab üldse börsil midagi teha ilma pikki võõrkeelseid tekste lugemata, Alvar? :)
  • Jim, Alvar palub LHV foorumis teha pisike emakeelne kokkuvõte. Nii lihtne see ongi.
  • Tõepoolest, Jim ja Sidekick, investeerimispanga foorumisse sobivad paremini sellised lühikesed ja laiadele rahvahulkadele arusaadavad postitused ...

    ABC (=suvalise crapi ticker) on hea aktsia, praegu maksab 2 USD, või vabal tõusta 3 juurde, võtsin veidi ...

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