Saturday, November 30, 2013

U.S. Citizens Renouncing Skyrocket---The Tina Turner Effect

America is a great land and lures immigrants worldwide, yet record numbers of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are giving up their citizenship or residency. For all the immigrant arrivals there's an increasing trickle the other direction too. And this year that trend is up by at least 33%  from the previous high in 2011.

The U.S. Treasury Department is obligated to publish the names each quarter. It is a kind of public outing that puts Americans on notice who relinquished their rights. For the 3rd quarter of 2013, 560 U.S. citizens renounced their citizenship or gave up long-term resident (green card) status.

Those seem like tiny numbers, yet the total thus far for 2013 is 2,369. See Number of Taxpayers Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship Skyrockets to All-Time Record High, quoting Andrew Mitchel. Under U.S. tax law, it is not relevant why someone expatriates. Whether the expatriation was motivated by tax avoidance or something else used to matter, but the law was changed in 2004.

Since then, the tax and other consequences do not depend on why one leaves. Yet after Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin departed permanently for Singapore with his Facebook IPO riches, there was an angry backlash. Mr. Saverin's post-Facebook fly-away prompted such outrage that Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey introduced a bill to double the exit tax to 30% for anyone leaving the U.S. for tax reasons.

So far, that bill remains unpassed. Meantime, are people following Tina Turner's lead? No, and not Eduardo Saverin's either. Most expatriations are probably motivated primarily by factors such as family and convenience. Many people like Ms. Turner have built a life somewhere else and may not plan to need a U.S. passport.

Complex or costly taxes can help sway a decision but are often only one factor. Although statistics are not available for why people say a final good-bye, many now find America's global income tax compliance and disclosure laws inconvenient and nettlesome. Some go so far as to say that the U.S. tax and disclosure laws are downright oppressive.

No group is more severely impacted than U.S. persons living abroad. For those living and working in foreign countries, it is almost a given that they must report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S. What's more, U.S. reporting is based on their worldwide income, even though they are paying taxes in the country where they live.

Many can claim a foreign tax credit on their U.S. returns, but it generally does not eliminate all double taxes. These rules have long been in effect, but enforcement was historically less of a concern with expats. Today enforcement fears are palpable.

Moreover, the annual foreign bank account reports known as FBAR forms carry civil and criminal penalties all out of proportion to tax violations. The penalties for failure to file these forms, civil and criminal, are severe. Even civil penalties can quickly consume the balance of an account.

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The coup de grace is FATCA, which is ramping up now worldwide. It requires an annual Form 8938 to be filed with income tax returns for foreign assets meeting a threshold. And foreign banks are sufficiently worried about keeping the IRS happy that many simply do not want American account holders. Americans abroad can be pariahs shunned by banks for daily banking activities.

Still, leaving America can have a special tax cost. To exit, you generally must prove 5 years of tax compliance in the U.S. Plus, if you have a net worth greater than $2 million or have average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $155,000 or more (that's tax, not income), you pay an exit tax.

The theory of the exit tax is that is the last chance the U.S. has of taxing you. It is a capital gain tax as if you sold your property when you left. At least there's an exemption of $668,000.

Citizens aren't the only ones to suffer. Long-term residents giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the tax too. See High Cost To Go Green: Giving Up A Green Card. A decision to expatriate should never be taken lightly. Taxes or no, it can be a big step. And around the world, more people are talking about taking this giant leap.

You can reach me at This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Australia Poised to Scrap Carbon and Mining Taxes

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In its pitch to the Australian electorate during the recent election cycle, the Liberal-National Coalition vowed to scrap the country’s carbon tax as well as the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), the latter of which is levied on the “super profits” of large mining companies. Indeed, back when newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a leader of the opposition, he made a rhetorical “pledge in blood” to do away with the carbon tax, which he had also characterized as “an octopus embracing the whole of [the] economy.”

Though planning and politicking for both taxes had been underway for a few years prior to their enactment, the timing for when they finally came into effect was exquisite. Both taxes became effective at the beginning of July 2012, roughly coinciding with the peak of Australia’s resource boom and, therefore, a fitting testament to the fact that politicians on all sides take wealth creation largely for granted.

But a slackening economy has caused some politicians to shift their focus toward removing barriers to growth. To that end, the newly ascendant Liberal-Nationals, who prevailed at the polls in Australia’s federal elections back in September, have wasted little time in working toward the repeal of both taxes.

Late last week, the lower house of Parliament voted to repeal both taxes, and now the bills head to the Senate. Although the Coalition should eventually hold the balance of power there, assuming they successfully woo the independents whose politics are aligned with theirs, the newly elected Senators won’t actually take their seats until next July. In the interim, Labor still controls the Senate thanks to its partnership with the Greens. As such, both bills are certain to be defeated in the Senate next month.

While it may seem pointless for the Coalition to put such bills to a vote before they control both houses of Parliament, the Liberal-Nationals could pursue a strategy that, though politically risky, could bring about the repeal of both taxes earlier than next summer.

After the Senate presumably rejects the legislation during this round, the House of Representatives could re-introduce both bills early next year. If the lower chamber passes them once more and the Senate votes against them again, then that may satisfy the conditions for what’s known as a “double dissolution,” a procedure by which the Australian Constitution resolves legislative impasses between the two bodies. If a double dissolution is triggered, the government can dissolve both houses of Parliament and call for new elections.

But it’s extremely rare for the government to follow through on double dissolutions, even when triggered. And it seems unlikely that the Coalition would pursue such an end given that it would only advance the timetable on repeal by a few months, while an already fatigued public has endured what was, by Australian standards, an unusually long election cycle this year.

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Interestingly, though the Coalition hopes to repeal the carbon tax, it intends to replace that regime with an alternative approach to achieving Australia’s goal to reduce emissions to 5 percent below levels that prevailed in 2000 by 2020. The new government’s so-called “direct action” plan would pay companies to curb emissions via reverse auctions financed by an AUD1.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. Thus far, this plan has had a lukewarm reception among the public, as well as some industry groups and policymakers, so it remains to be seen whether it actually gets implemented.

But at the very least, with repeal of both taxes likely by next summer at the very latest, Australia’s resource sector will face two fewer challenges at a time when it could definitely use the help. And while that alone won’t be a game changer for our investments, it should prove helpful at the margins.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Southwest ranks as easiest travel company to de…

When it comes to flying, Southwest makes the experience a lot easier to handle than its peers.

That's according to a new index to be released today that ranks companies based on how simple they are to engage with.

Southwest was the highest-ranked travel company, coming in at No. 9 out of 125 businesses whose brands are well-known in the U.S., according to a survey by New York-based strategic branding firm Siegel and Gale. The low-cost carrier leaped six spots from where U.S.-based respondents ranked it last year. Amazon was No. 1.

The perception that Southwest offers fair prices that don't dramatically spike because of a host of extra fees being tacked on is key to customers feeling the airline is easy to deal with, says Brian Rafferty, director of global research for Siegel and Gale. "Transparency is one thing Southwest is doing well,'' he says, "and people also . . .feel they have very good service and they care about the customer.''

Siegel and Gale's annual survey includes a global simplicity index, as well as separate rankings for six regions including the U.S., the Middle East and the United Kingdom. Taken between May 3 and July 2, there were roughly 1,500 respondents in the U.S. consumer survey.

JetBlue came in at No. 44, jumping 24 spots from last year. But the rankings of the low-cost carriers stood in stark contrast to those of their larger peers, who hovered near the bottom of the U.S. rankings. US Airways came in at 103, American was ranked 105, United was 115 and Delta was 116.

The airlines are "one of the industries where there's the biggest gap between the leaders and the laggards,'' Rafferty says.

The network carriers get negative reviews for piling on extra fees and not being more up front about them, said Kathleen Kindle, a Siegel and Gale strategy director for brand development. "People are super price-conscious and they don't want to know there's an extra $150 tacked on if they change their flight,'' she said.

Rahsaan Johnson, a spok! esman for United, said, "We've heard our customers' concerns loud and clear. We're updating our online capabilities, our mobile apps and the tools and training we give our employees to deliver better service and solve customers' problems more quickly than we could in the past.''

Victoria Day, spokeswoman for the airlines trade group Airlines for America, said, "U.S. airlines understand how important it is to be clear and transparent in communicating with customers so they are fully informed from booking a reservation through to flight completion, and airlines continue to enhance their communications channels, including social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to better engage with customers.''

Some consumers in the Siegel and Gale survey also voiced concerns about the car rental industry. While Enterprise jumped 38 spots from last year to 57, Alamo came in at 84, Hertz was 97 and Budget was 98. Rafferty and Kindle said that consumers were turned off by complicated rental contracts and fees for insurance, gas and other extras.

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Siegel and Gale, which helps companies simplify their brand experience, believes that simplicity can boost business. Among U.S. consumers, 75.5% of survey respondents said they'd be more likely to recommend a brand or company if it provides a more streamlined experience than its peers or competitors.

"You think about our lives today and all the experiences people are having with multiple screens and multiple interactions,'' Kindle says. "Brands that offer a respite from all of that, a transparent and easy experience to their customers'' can have an advantage. "We could all use a little less complexity in our daily lives.''

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2 Houston Firms Accused of Illicit Trading in Client Accounts

“We have a different view of what it means to be entrusted with your future.”

Those ambiguous words posted on the homepage of a Houston brokerage, meant to assure wary investors, may have a quite opposite meaning if charges of self-dealing with millions in client funds, announced Tuesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, are ultimately upheld.

The SEC announced administrative proceedings against two Houston investment advisor firms and four executives — Parallax Investments and its owner, John P. Bott II, and chief compliance officer, F. Robert Falkenberg; and against Tri-Star Advisors and its CEO, William T. Payne, and president, Jon C. Vaughan.

In a statement accompanying the two SEC orders, the commission says the two firms engineered “thousands of principal transactions through their affiliated brokerage firm without informing their clients.”

A principal transaction essentially means the investment professional is trading on his own behalf with the client. Because of the inherent conflict of interest, the advisor is required to disclose his financial interest in the transaction and obtain the client’s consent.

The SEC says that Parallax and Tri-Star fulfilled neither of these requirements before Parallax’s Bott initiated and executed at least 2,000 trades on behalf of uninformed clients, and Tri-Star supplied mortgage-backed bonds from its own inventory to the Parallax accounts. Tri-Star’s Payne and Vaughan reaped more than $2 million for the illicit trades, and Bott garnered nearly half the $1.9 million in sales credits for the transactions, the SEC charges.

Over the same 2009-2011 period, Tri-Star — from whose website the above quote is taken — performed the same hustle with its own clients, according to the SEC, with Payne and Vaughan receiving nearly half of $1.9 million in sales credits on these transactions.

While both firms are accused of violating the principal transaction and compliance provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the SEC is also leveling a third charge against Parallax for violating the “custody rule” requiring firms to maintain certain standards when maintaining client funds or securities.

To custody client assets, a firm must either undergo a surprise annual SEC exam or it may elect a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)-registered audit, delivering results to clients within 120 days after the fiscal year ends.

The SEC order charges Bott and Parallax’s chief compliance officer, F. Robert Falkenberg, with violating these rules. The firm did not obtain audits of its private fund Parallax Capital Partners LP after 2010, and the two executives knowingly retained an auditor not registered with PCAOB to perform its 2010 audit.

Attempts to reach the both firms’ executives were met with a referral to the parties’ attorney, from whom ThinkAdvisor has not heard back at press time.

Of note, the call to Parrallax rang through, automatically, to Tri-Star, seemingly indicating a strong affiliation between the two firms in terms of day-to-day activities.

Moreover, their websites show they are located at the same street address, though each lists a separate suite on the ninth floor.

In a Texas state disclosure supplementing the firm’s Form ADV and found on Parallax’s website, Bott discloses a 40% ownership interest in Tri-Star.

Tri-Star’s website, the same one promising a different view of what it means to be entrusted, also leads on its home page and several other pages with a prominently displayed quote from the eminent American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. It reads:

“Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.”


Check out SEC, FINRA Enforcement: Advisor to NFL, NBA Players Barred Amid Fraud Case on ThinkAdvisor.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Boeing vs. Caterpillar: Which Stock's Dividend Dominates?

Dividend stocks outperform non-dividend-paying stocks over the long run. It happens in good markets and bad, and the benefit of dividends can be quite striking -- dividend payments have made up about 40% of the market's average annual return from 1936 to the present day.

But few of us can invest in every single dividend-paying stock on the market, and even if we could, we're likely to find better gains by being selective. Today, two of the world's leading heavy industrial manufacturing companies -- one on land, one in the air -- will square off in a head-to-head battle to determine which offers a better dividend for your portfolio.

Tale of the tape
Founded in 1916, Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) is one of the world's largest commercial jet manufacturers (ranking either first or second in any given year), and is the second-largest aerospace and defense contractor in the world, behind only Lockheed Martin. Boeing is also a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, reflecting its importance to the American economy. Headquartered in Chicago, the company serves both commercial and military customers in over 150 countries, and is one of the largest U.S. exporters by sales. Boeing's Next-Generation 737 tends to be the world's most popular jet airliner, and most of its other jets are mainstays on airport tarmacs around the world as well.

Founded in 1925, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, and ranked among the top 50 Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. for 2012. Caterpillar is also a component of both the Dow. Headquartered in Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar traces its roots from the merger of the Holt Manufacturing Company and the C.L. Best Tractor Company. The company has grown through a number of acquisitions over the past decade, including Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi in 2008, Caterpillar Xuzhou and MWM Holding in 2010 and Bucyrus International in 2011. Caterpillar heavy machinery is as common at construction and excavation sites as Boeing's jets are at airports, which makes this a classic battle of land versus air.




Market cap

$104 billion

$53.5 billion

P/E ratio



Trailing 12-month profit margin



TTM free cash flow margin*



Five-year total return 



Source: Morningstar and YCharts.
*Free cash flow margin is free cash flow divided by revenue for the trailing 12 months.

Round one: endurance (dividend-paying streak)
Boeing began paying annual dividends in 1942 but switched to quarterly dividends in 1954, which adds up to a 71-year dividend-paying streak. Caterpillar, on the other hand, had been making dividend payments since 1950s, but ceased during the 1960s and did not resume payments until 1982. This one's an easy win for Boeing.

Winner: Boeing, 1-0.

Round two: stability (dividend-raising streak)
According to Dividata, Boeing has been increasing its dividend payouts at least once per year since 2004, but the company held its dividends firm between 2010 and 2011. By contrast, Caterpillar's increased its dividend payments at least once every year since 1994, which lets it win the stability crown without any hassles.

Winner: Caterpillar, 1-1.

Round three: power (dividend yield)
Some dividends are enticing, but others are merely tokens that barely affect an investor's decision. Have our two companies sustained strong yields over time? Let's take a look:

BA Dividend Yield (TTM) Chart

BA Dividend Yield (TTM) data by YCharts

Winner: Caterpillar, 2-1.

Round four: strength (recent dividend growth)
A stock's yield can stay high without much effort if its share price doesn't budge, so let's look at the growth in payouts over the past five years.

BA Dividend Chart

BA Dividend data by YCharts

Winner: Caterpillar, 3-1.

Round five: flexibility (free cash flow payout ratio)
A company that pays out too much of its free cash flow in dividends could be at risk of a cutback, particularly if business weakens. We want to see sustainable payouts, so lower is better:

BA Cash Dividend Payout Ratio (TTM) Chart

BA Cash Dividend Payout Ratio (TTM) data by YCharts

Winner: Boeing, 2-3.

Bonus round: opportunities and threats
Caterpillar may have won the best-of-five on the basis of its history, but investors should never base their decisions on past performance alone. Tomorrow might bring a far different business environment, so it's important to also examine each company's potential, whether it happens to be nearly boundless or constrained too tightly for growth.

Boeing opportunities:

Boeing has record orders worth more than $95 billion for its 777X jet. Etihad Airways ordered 30 787-10 Dreamliners worth more than $8.7 billion. Boeing expects the Middle East's aviation market to reach $550 billion within the next two decades. Boeing can capitalize on increased demand for missile defense systems in emerging markets.

Caterpillar opportunities:

Caterpillar has trimmed North American operations to reduce costs. Caterpillar has a $20.4 billion order backlog despite poor macroeconomic conditions. It has launched an accelerated $1 billion capital-return plan to boost shareholder confidence. Caterpillar can gain much from a rebound in key international markets, especially in China and the rest of Asia.

Boeing threats:

The U.S. government aims to cut defense spending by $1 trillion over the next nine years. Boeing workers rejected an eight-year contract extension offer. Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has experienced many operational deficiencies since launch.

Caterpillar threats:

Caterpillar reduced its full-year guidance by 15% because of uncertainty in the mining industry. Low commodity prices have hurt demand for Caterpillar's heavy industrial equipment.

One dividend to rule them all
In this writer's humble opinion, it seems that Boeing has a better shot at long-term outperformance. Both companies face unique macroeconomic headwinds over the coming decade, but Caterpillar's increasing reliance on mining -- a floundering sector -- and its historical dependence on construction growth are both major drawbacks in a world where construction has stalled and commodity prices have plunged. Despite major defense cutbacks and glitches in the next-gen 787, Boeing still stands to gain from the continued surge in long-distance flights around the world, particularly in regions that are just now beginning to enjoy significant middle-class expansions. You might disagree, and if so, you're encouraged to share your viewpoint in the comments below. No dividend is completely perfect, but some are bound to produce better results than others. Keep your eyes open -- you never know where you might find the next great dividend stock!

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Short Sellers Switch Allegiances on Chip Stocks

We have tracked the key short interest changes as of September 30 in the following semiconductor leaders: Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM), ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH), Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL), Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) and Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT). We also chose to look at how the Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (NYSEMKT: SMH) has held up.

Intel Corp.’s (NASDAQ: INTC) short interest rose 2.1% to 251.54 million shares. About 5.1% of Intel's float is now short.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) saw short interest fall by 4.6% to 108.7 million shares, or 17.8% of the company's total float.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) short interest rose 10.1% to 26.44 million shares, which represents 1.5% of the company's float.

ARM Holdings PLC (NASDAQ: ARMH) saw a 7.5% drop in short interest to 8.09 million shares, which represents about 1.7% of the firm's float.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) showed a drop of 17.6% in short interest, to 92.33 million shares, or about 9% of Micron's float.

SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) saw short interest fall by 9.5% to 20.36 million shares, or 8.5% of the company's float.

Short interest in Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) rose 9% to 13.7 million shares. That is 2.6% of the total float.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) posted a 13.9% increase in short interest to 13.42 million shares, or about 3.4% of Marvell's float.

Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) short interest rose by 4% to 41.9 million shares, about 7.6% of the company's float.

Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) saw short interest fall by 6% to 22.5 million shares, or 2.1% of the float.

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) short interest rose 34.7% to 21.2 million shares, which is about 1.8% of the company's float.

The Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (NYSEMKT: SMH) showed a drop of 6.1% in short interest to 9.27 million shares.

Short interest in Micron fell off a cliff in the latter two weeks of the month. Reports that DRAM prices are rising and demand is improving have given the company a real boost. Applied Materials was the other big short play, mostly following its announced merger with Tokyo Electron. The stock jumped to a 52-week high after the announcement and the shorts loved the play.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sometimes Talk Is All It Takes

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Last week, we argued that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will have to cut rates further to force the Australian dollar lower. But it turns out that, like other central banks, the RBA has another powerful tool at its disposal: jawboning.

In recent weeks, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens has gone from characterizing the level of the exchange rate as “uncomfortably high” to noting “that foreign-exchange intervention can, judiciously used in the right circumstances, be effective and useful.”

That latter observation, which was offered in a speech before the Australian Business Economists’ annual dinner on Nov. 21, has already helped push the currency down by more than a cent, which may not seem like much, but is a substantial short-term move in the arena of currency trading.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in the decades since Australia shifted to a floating exchange rate in 1983, such a currency intervention has essentially been verboten. So it’s a noteworthy shift for policymakers to announce publicly that this approach could be worth considering.

Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow says the RBA’s latest jawboning campaign began in earnest on Oct. 29, when the currency was trading near USD0.95. After having fallen as low as USD0.89 in late August, the Aussie rose sharply after the Fed opted to defer its widely expected September taper until a later juncture.

The currency climbed as high as USD0.97 in late October, with three cascades since then, the latest of which has taken the currency from USD0.943, on Nov. 19, to USD0.916 (at time of writing). The Aussie is currently down about 13.6 percent from its year-to-date high in early January.

We had actually discounted the RBA’s ability to achieve meaningful depreciation through public pronouncements because the concrete actions of its rate-cutting cycle had already failed to do the same. It wasn’t until the US Federal Reserve began talking about pulling back on its extraordinary easing in early May that the Aussie finally began plummeting. If actual rate cuts couldn’t undermine the currency, then what good would mere chatter be?

But sometimes it’s all about psychology. And the selloff in the Aussie since the late spring may have reset traders’ attitudes toward the currency, which prior to that point had risen as much as 83 percent from its low during the Global Financial Crisis, while trading above parity with the US dollar for the better part of two years.

That relative strength was causing significant pain for Australian firms that compete in the global markets. We’ve read the transcripts of numerous earnings calls where management teams bemoaned the effects of the strong currency on overseas sales. And with the resource boom fading and policymakers hoping to find another sector that can help boost the country’s slowing economy, it’s crucial for companies that are looking to foreign markets for growth to have a currency edge.

Of course, as we’ve also noted recently, short-term movements in the Aussie have been increasingly correlated with traders’ expectations regarding Fed policy. On that front, the RBA once again received some help from the Fed. The minutes from the Fed’s Oct. 29-30 meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee, which were released on Nov. 20, showed that policymakers expect labor market conditions to continue improving, which would “warrant trimming the pace of purchases in coming months.”

Still, this isn’t actually a timetable, and any taper is dependent on an improvement in the data. But traders seem to interpret such statements as if they’re the former, rather than the latter. Regardless, in the short term, such expectations have helped the RBA achieve its policy end, even if yet another deferred taper causes the exchange rate to temporarily spike again. By that point, however, the RBA may have cut rates once more, which would presumably limit the fallout from another Fed flinch.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now

Wall Street watchers may have been getting dizzy today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) moved more than 100 points for the third day in a row. Today, however, two strong economic reports sent the blue chips higher, as the index gained 180 points, or 1.2%. Initial unemployment claims beat expectations with last week's new jobless tally hitting just 334,000, compared to the 350,000 analysts had expected, and 346,000 the week before. The figure helps increase confidence that the job market is improving after last week's new jobs numbers for May also beat expectations.

May retail sales also came in ahead of expectations, jumping 0.6% versus the consensus estimate at 0.3%. �The total was the fastest growth rate in three months, and a 4.3% increase over a year ago, indicating that consumer spending continues to improve despite government spending cuts and a higher payroll tax. �

Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) took the cake today among Dow stocks, gaining 2.3%, as the construction-equipment maker bumped up its quarterly dividend 15%, to $0.60, or a 2.9% yield. It was the company's third consecutive annual dividend increase and, on a bullish day, that was enough to push the macro-economically sensitive stock up over 2%. Caterpillar has been one of the worst-performing on the Dow this year as it has actually fallen 5% in 2013. Given its sluggish performance recently, the stock may be due for a gain.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Plum Creek Timber Company Inc.(PCL)

Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. is a publicly owned real estate investment trust (REIT). The trust owns and manages timberlands in the United States. Its products include lumber products, plywood, medium density fiberboard, and related by-products, such as wood chips. The trust also focuses on mineral extraction and natural gas production, communication, and transportation. Plum Creek Timber Company was founded in 1989 and is based in Seattle, Washington.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jonas Elmerraji]

    Plum Creek Timber (PCL) isn't your typical commercial REIT. Instead, the firm is a niche trust that operates in the timber business, one of the less conventional businesses allowed by the REIT Act signed in 1960. PCL owns 6.6 million acres of timberlands in 19 states.

    Only the timberland business falls under REIT rules, with logging operations treated as a traditional taxable corporation. For all intents and purposes, though, PCL's bread and butter remains its timberland; the firm earns more money through recreation, development, and conservation efforts than through logging. That could change as the housing market heats up, especially as supply constraints push timber prices higher. Either way, Plum Creek's combination of tax-advantaged REIT income and conventional business makes the firm a unique name to own right now...

    Financially, PCL is in strong shape, with more than $350 million in cash offsetting a reasonable $3 billion debt load. While PCL resorted to liquidating land to fund its dividend in the wake of the Great Recession, recent acquisitions should help calm investors' concerns. For the moment, this stock pays a 3.5% dividend yield. While Plum Creek isn't a conventional REIT by most measures, it does make a great non-core holding for income-seekers in 2013.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: RPM International Inc.(RPM)

RPM International Inc., together with its subsidiaries, manufactures, markets, and sells various specialty chemical products to industrial and consumer markets worldwide. The company?s Industrial segment offers waterproofing and institutional roofing systems used in building protection, maintenance, and weatherproofing applications; sealants, tapes, and foams; residential basement waterproofing systems; specialized roofing and building maintenance and related services; specialty industrial adhesives and sealants; and concrete and masonry additives, and related construction chemicals. It also offers polymer flooring systems, and offshore and marine structures; industrial and commercial tile systems; fiberglass reinforced plastic gratings and shapes; heavy-duty corrosion-control coatings, fireproofing products, and containment linings; specialty construction products, including bridge expansion joints, bridge deck and parking deck membranes, curb and channel drains, highway markings, protective coatings, and concrete repairs; and fluorescent colorants and pigments, waterproofing and flooring products, exterior insulating finishing systems, and shellac-based-specialty coatings for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, edible glazes, and food coatings. The company?s Consumer segment provides professional use and do-it-yourself products for a range of consumer applications, including home improvement and personal leisure activities. Its products include coating products; specialty products; deck and fence restoration products; metallic and faux finish coatings; hobby paints and cements; and caulks, sealants, adhesives, insulating foam, spackling, glazing, and other general patch and repair products. The company offers its products under the Carboline, DAP, EUCO, Fibergrate, Flecto, Flowcrete, Hummervoll, Universal Sealants, illbruck, Rust-Oleum, Stonhard, Tremco, Watco, and Zinsser brand names. RPM International was founded in 1947 and is headquarte red in Medina, Ohio.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Next week investors will be waiting for several key earnings reports including�Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN),RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM), ADTRAN, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTN), and Del Frisco�� Restaurant Group, Inc (NASDAQ: DFRG)

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Specialty coatings manufacturer RPM International� (NYSE: RPM  ) announced today its second-quarter dividend of $0.225 per share, the same rate it's paid for the past three quarters after raising the payout almost 5% from $0.215 per share.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    RPM International (NYSE: RPM) is expected to report its Q1 earnings at $0.71 per share on revenue of $1.13 billion.

    Zep (NYSE: ZEP) is projected to report its Q4 earnings at $0.24 per share on revenue of $179.09 million.

Top 10 Clean Energy Companies To Invest In 2014: Frontier Communications Company(FTR)

Frontier Communications Corporation, a communications company, provides regulated and unregulated voice, data, and video services to residential, business, and wholesale customers in the United States. It offers local and long distance voice services, including basic telephone wireline services to residential and business customers; switched access services that allow other carriers to use the facilities to originate and terminate their long distance voice and data traffic; and directory services that provide white and yellow page directories for residential and business listings. The company also provides data and Internet services, which include residential services comprising high-speed Internet, dial up Internet, portal and e-mail products, and hard drive back-up services; and commercial and carriers services, such as metro Ethernet; dedicated Internet; Internet protocol, optical, multiprotocol label switching, and TDM data transport services. In addition, it offers di rect broadcast satellite services and fiber optic video services, as well as provides online access to video content, entertainment, and news available on the worldwide Web through its Web site The company was formerly known as Citizens Communications Company and changed its name to Frontier Communications Corporation in July 2008. Frontier Communications Corporation was founded in 1927 and is based in Stamford, Connecticut.

Advisors' Opinion:

    Frontier Communications is losing customers, and it’s in a weakening industry. The high yield is the most appealing attribute for the stock, but debt management is a concern and the dividend might be cut in the future. The stock has performed well over the past year, but almost any stock has the potential to perform well in a dartboard market. Therefore, there is near-term upside potential. However, if and when the market begins to act normally,�this isn’t a good place to be. There are too many risks.

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR  ) has announced its latest dividend payout as it reports an 80% boost in net income in its just-released quarterly results.

  • [By David Klein]

    In our last article we said Frontier Communications' (FTR) major challenge is to stop the continuous bleed in revenue. Frontier Communications released their 2013 first quarter results on May 6. Based on the revenue challenge ahead of them this article will limit the discussion to the following:

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    For years, investors turned to lesser-known telecom companies for high dividend yields. Windstream (NASDAQ: WIN  ) and Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR  ) became especially popular, as they focused on rural areas where consumers have fewer choices on where to get telecom services. Even though those businesses have been in slow decline, both Frontier and Windstream have made efforts to broaden their offerings to keep up with competition in broadband Internet and business services, with varying degrees of success. Windstream has managed to keep its dividend steady, but Frontier had to cut its dividend twice in recent years, sending its shares down substantially.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Oneida Financial Corp.(ONFC)

Oneida Financial Corp. operates as the bank holding company for The Oneida Savings Bank that provides community banking services primarily in Madison and Oneida Counties in New York, and surrounding counties. Its deposit products include savings accounts, interest-bearing demand accounts, non interest-bearing checking accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, and individual retirement accounts. The company?s loan products portfolio comprises one-to-four family residential and commercial real estate loans, consumer loans, and commercial business loans. It also offers trust and investment services, including fiduciary services for trusts and estates, money management, and custodial services. In addition, the company sells insurance; provides employee benefits consulting services; and offers risk management services to help mitigate and prevent work related injuries. It operates through 10 full service branch offices in Madison and Oneida Counties; and 1 full service branch office in Onondaga County in New York. The company was founded in 1866 and is based in Oneida, New York. Oneida Financial Corp. is a subsidiary of Oneida Financial MHC.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: ConAgra Foods Inc.(CAG)

ConAgra Foods, Inc. operates as a food company primarily in North America. It operates in two segments, Consumer Foods and Commercial Foods. The Consumer Foods segment provides branded, private label, and customized food products, which are sold in various retail and foodservice channels. It offers products in various categories, such as meals, entrees, condiments, sides, snacks, and desserts in frozen, refrigerated, and shelf-stable temperature classes. This segment?s principal brands include Alexia, ACT II, Banquet, Blue Bonnet, Chef Boyardee, DAVID, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Hunt?s, Marie Callender?s, Orville Redenbacher?s, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Snack Pack, Swiss Miss, Van Camp?s, and Wesson. The Commercial Foods segment provides commercially branded foods and ingredients that are sold to foodservice, food manufacturing, and industrial customers. Its primary products consist of specialty potato products, milled grain ingredients, a ran ge of vegetable products, seasonings, blends, and flavors. This segment sells products under brands, such as ConAgra Mills, Lamb Weston, and Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings. The company was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    One area where Whole Foods could see huge promise is in the rise of private-label brands. In the conventional food space, ConAgra's (NYSE: CAG  ) buyout of Ralcorp Holdings, which closed in late January, upped the ante for private-label sales. Brand-name food producers like Kellogg and General Mills now find themselves on the defensive against lower-priced alternatives that compete well not only on price but also on quality. Yet Whole Foods has taken advantage of the trend to come out with its own private-label offerings, which have the potential to boost its margins even further.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    But the consumer side of the business is much more profitable, and there,�McCormick has faced more competitive issues. The rise of private-label brands has taken the retail food industry by storm, with ConAgra's (NYSE: CAG  ) purchase of Ralcorp Holdings giving the food company a big edge in private-label area and showing its margin-boosting value. For McCormick, however, its success in helping customers build their own store brand spices arguably comes at its own expense, although retaining customers in some capacity is obviously better than losing them entirely.

  • [By Jake L'Ecuyer]

    Top Headline
    ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG) reported a 42% drop in its fiscal first-quarter earnings.

    ConAgra's quarterly profit fell to $144.3 million, or $0.34 per share, from $250.1 million, or $0.61 per share, in the year-ago period. Its earnings from continuing operations came in at $0.33 per share. Excluding one-time items, its earnings declined to $0.37 from $0.44 per share.

  • [By Rich Smith]

    A few weeks back, I made the argument for why General Mills (NYSE: GIS  ) stock offers investors a pretty compelling bargain -- based on the stock's valuation, and relative to a couple of its larger rivals. Whether you value the stock on its GAAP earnings, its actual free cash flow ("cash profit"), or even on the size of its dividend yield, General Mills stock is cheaper, and pays you better, than do the stocks of either Kellogg (NYSE: K  ) or ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG  ) .

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Altria Group(MO)

Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. It offers cigarettes under the Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament, Benson & Hedges, Basic, and L&M brands; smokeless tobacco products under the Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Seal, Husky brands, and Marlboro snus brands; and machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco. The company also produces and sells blended table wines under the Chateau Ste Michelle and Columbia Crest names; and distributes Antinori and Villa Maria Estate wines and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte in the United States. In addition, it maintains a portfolio of leveraged and direct finance leases in rail and surface transport, aircraft, electric power, real estate, and manufacturing. The company sells its tobacco products to wholesalers, including distributors; large retail organizations, such as chain stores; and the armed services. Altria Group, Inc. markets its wine products to restaurants, wholesale clubs, supermarkets, wine shops, and mass merchandisers. The company was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Muhammad Bazil]

    Altria Group Inc (MO) is a producer of cigarettes and other tobacco related products. Two of its competitors include; British American Tobacco (ADR) (BTI) and Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (ADR) (ITYBY)

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: 3M Company(MMM)

3M Company, together with subsidiaries, operates as a diversified technology company worldwide. The company?s Industrial and Transportation segment offers tapes, coated and non-woven abrasives, adhesives, specialty materials, filtration products, energy control products, closure systems for personal hygiene products, acoustic systems products, and components and products that are used in the manufacture, repair, and maintenance of automotive, marine, aircraft, and specialty vehicles. Its Health Care segment provides medical and surgical supplies, skin health and infection prevention products, inhalation and transdermal drug delivery systems, dental and orthodontic products, health information systems, and food safety products. The company?s Display and Graphics offers optical film solutions for LCD electronic displays; computer screen filters; reflective sheeting for transportation safety; commercial graphics sheeting and systems; and mobile interactive solutions, includin g mobile display technology, visual systems products, and computer privacy filters. The company?s Consumer and Office segment provides office supply products, stationery products, construction and home improvement products, home care products, protective material products, certain consumer retail personal safety products, and consumer health care products. Its Safety, Security and Protection Services segment offers personal protection products, safety and security products, cleaning and protection products for commercial establishments, track and trace solutions, and roofing granules for asphalt shingles. The company?s Electro and Communications segment provides packaging and interconnection devices; fluids that are used in the manufacture of computer chips, and for cooling electronics and lubricating computer hard disk drives; high-temperature and display tapes; insulating materials, including tapes and resins; and related items. The company was founded in 1902 and is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Anders Bylund]

    Today, we'll take a closer look at industrial jack-of-all-trades 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) . 3M makes everything from Scotch Tape and Post-its to asphalt shingles and power lines, and that versatility helps the company perform in a variety of market conditions.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Pepsico Inc.(PEP)

PepsiCo, Inc. engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. The company operates in four divisions: PepsiCo Americas Foods (PAF); PepsiCo Americas Beverages (PAB); PepsiCo Europe; and PepsiCo Asia, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA). The PAF division offers Lay?s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and dips, Cheetos cheese flavored snacks, Fritos corn chips, Quaker Chewy granola bars, and SunChips multigrain snacks in North America; Quaker oatmeal, Aunt Jemima mixes and syrups, Cap?n Crunch cereal, Quaker grits, and Life cereal, as well as Rice-A-Roni, Pasta Roni, and Near East side dishes in North America; and various snack foods under Doritos, Marias Gamesa, Cheetos, Ruffles, Emperador, Saladitas, Sabritas, and Lay?s brands in Latin America. The PAB division provides carbonated soft drinks, beverage concentrates, fountain syrups, and finished goods under Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, 7UP, Tropicana Pure Premium, Electropura, Sierra Mist, Epura, and Mirinda brands; ready-to-drink tea, coffee, and water products through joint ventures with Unilever and Starbucks; and sells concentrate to authorized bottlers, and branded finished goods directly to independent distributors and retailers. This division also manufactures third-party brands, such as Dr Pepper, Crush, Rock Star, and Muscle Milk. The PepsiCo Europe division offers Frito Lay Snacks, Pepsi-Cola beverages, Gatorade sports drinks, Tropicana juices, and Quaker foods in Europe. The AMEA division provides snack food under the Lay?s, Kurkure, Chipsy, Doritos, Smith?s, Cheetos, Red Rock Deli, and Ruffles brands; Quaker-brand cereals and snacks; and beverage concentrates, fountain syrups, and finished goods under the Pepsi, Mirinda, 7UP, and Mountain Dew brands. PepsiCo, Inc. was founded in 1898 and is headquartered in Purchase, New York.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Chris Hill]

    Shares of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) were up more than 5% on Tuesday in the wake of higher-than-expected earnings. Revenue for Coca-Cola's first-quarter dropped by 1% but overall sales volume was up 4%. Coca-Cola reported strong growth in�India, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil. Coca-Cola stock has been a solid long-term performer but�shares have�lost to Pepsi (NYSE: PEP  ) over the last year. Which stock is the better investment going forward? In this installment of MarketFoolery, our analysts talk about the future of Coca-Cola.

  • [By Alyce Lomax]

    There are different variations of the anti-Monsanto social meme�floating around, claiming that companies and brands like Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) , PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) , Coca-Cola,�and other household names are owned by Monsanto.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Torch Energy Royalty Trust(TRU)

Torch Energy Royalty Trust, a grantor trust, holds net profits interests, to receive payments from the working interest owners. Its working interest owners include Torch Royalty Company, Torch E&P Company, Samson Lone Star Limited Partnership, and Constellation Energy Partners LLC. The trust is entitled to receive 95% of the net proceeds attributable to oil and natural gas produced and sold from wells on the underlying properties, including Chalkley Field in Louisiana; the Robinson?s Bend Field in the Black Warrior Basin in Alabama; Cotton Valley Fields in Texas; and Austin Chalk Fields in central Texas. Torch Energy Royalty Trust was founded in 1993 and is based in Wilmington, Delaware.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Watch In Right Now: Amphenol Corporation(APH)

Amphenol Corporation engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of electrical, electronic, and fiber optic connectors; interconnect systems; and coaxial and specialty cables worldwide. Its Interconnect Products and Assemblies segment produces connectors and connector assemblies primarily for the communications, aerospace, industrial, and automotive markets. This segment provides connector and cable assembly products used in communication applications; smart card acceptor and other interconnect devices used in mobile telephones; set top boxes to facilitate reading data from smart cards; fiber optic connectors used in fiber optic signal transmission; backplane and input/output connectors and assemblies used for servers and data storage devices and linking personal computers and peripheral equipment; sculptured flexible circuits used for integrating printed circuit boards; and hinge products used in mobile phone and other mobile communication devices. It also designs a nd produces radio frequency connector products and antennas used in telecommunications, computer and office equipment, instrumentation equipment, local area networks, and automotive electronics. The company?s Cable Products segment produces coaxial cable and connector products used in cable television systems, including full service cable television/telecommunication systems; radio frequency and fiber optic interconnect components for full service cable television/ telecommunication networks; and data cables and specialty cables used to connect internal components in systems with space and component configuration limitations. Amphenol Corporation markets its products directly, as well as through manufacturers? representatives and distributors to original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers, cable system operators, and telecommunication companies. The company was founded in 1932 and is headquartered in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Sally Jones] % over 12 months, Amphenol Corporation has a market cap of $12.88 billion and is traded at a P/E of 21.70. The dividend yield is 0.60%.

    The current share price is around $80.94.

    Incorporated in 1987, Amphenol Corporation designs, manufactures and markets electrical, electronic and fiber optic connectors, interconnect systems and coaxial and specialty cable. The markets for the global company's products are communication systems for the converging technologies of voice, video and data communications and a wide range of industrial applications including factory automation and motion control systems, medical and industrial instrumentation, and commercial aerospace and military applications, and many more.

    Guru Action: As of June 30, 2013, Columbia Wanger reduced its position by 0.69%, selling 29,000 shares at an average price of $76.60, gaining 7.5%.

    Columbia Wanger is the top guru stakeholder with 4,184,650 shares or 2.63% of shares outstanding.

    Over a phenomenal five-year trading history, the firm averaged a gain of 215% on 828,250 shares bought at an average price of $25.71 per share. Columbia Wanger also gained 56% selling 1,608,300 shares at an average price of $51.91 per share.

    Check out the very active insider selling and seven gurus holding APH.

    Track share pricing, revenue and net income:

    [ Enlarge Image ]

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Competitor AVX Corp. (AVX) has gained 1.1% to $12.96, while Molex (MOLX) has dropped 0.2% to $29.28 and Amphenol (APH) has ticked up 0.3% to $76.32.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Johnson & Johnson in $2.5B hip-device settlement

WASHINGTON — Johnson & Johnson said late Tuesday that it will pay $2.5 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits brought by hip replacement patients who accuse the company of selling faulty implants that led to injuries and additional surgeries.

The agreement presented in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Ohio, is one of the largest for the medical device industry. It resolves an estimated 8,000 cases of patients who had to have the company's metal ball-and-socket hip implant removed or replaced. J&J pulled the implant from the market in 2010 after data showed it failed sooner than older implants.

The deal provides roughly $250,000 per patient and covers those who had their implants removed or replaced before Aug. 31 this year. The company expects to make most of the payments to patients in 2014.

J&J's DePuy unit said in a statement that the deal does not cover all lawsuits pending against the company.

"DePuy will continue to defend against remaining claims and believes its actions related to the ASR Hip System have been appropriate and responsible," the company said.

The artificial hip, known as the Articular Surface Replacement, or ASR, was sold for eight years to some 35,000 people in the U.S. and more than 90,000 people worldwide. J&J stopped making the product in 2009 and recalled it the next year.

However, internal J&J documents unsealed in the case suggest that company officials were aware of problems with the device at least as far back as 2008.

Top Low Price Stocks To Buy Right Now

Also, according to a deposition from a J&J official, a 2011 company review of a patient registry concluded that more than one-third of the implants were expected to fail within five years of their implantation. Orthopedic hips are generally supposed to last at least 10 to 20 years.

The company's lawyers have denied that J&J acted improperly.

For! decades nearly all orthopedic hips were coated with plastic or ceramic. But a decade ago many surgeons began to favor all-metal implants based on laboratory tests suggesting the devices would be more resistant to wear and reduce the chances of dislocation.

But recent data from patient registries show the devices actually fail at a higher rate than older implants. Last year a panel of government advisers said there are few, if any, cases where metal-on-metal hip implants should be recommended.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Top 10 Wall Street Crooks: Insider Trading

Insider trading cases have grabbed the headlines over the last few years, shaking hedge funds, the financial world and even celebrities.

In fact, in the last five years, there have been more than 70 convictions for insider trading in the U.S. The list of individuals and companies caught up in the crackdown by the SEC and the Justice Department seems almost endless, from SAC Capital to Raj Rajaratnam.

Is it any wonder that 70% of Americans think those who work on Wall Street would break the law just to earn a lot money, Knut Rostad writes in his blog on ThinkAdvisor: 5 Years On, Americans See Wall St. as “Foreign ... a Culture Apart”.

Of course, the urge to use a little secret info to make a mint is nothing new. When ThinkAdvisor went to compile a who’s who of insider trading miscreants, it wasn’t hard to find cases from the 1990s, the 1980s and one we couldn’t resist from way back in the Roaring ’20s, though he wasn’t convicted.

Check out our Top 11 Wall St. Crooks: Insider Trading. We’ve counted them down from the lowest to highest amount stolen in terms of 2013 dollars.

Albert H. Wiggin (Photo: courtesy of

(Honorable Mention, since everything he did was legal, but he had a law named after him--in a bad way)

Albert H. Wiggin: $4 million ($54.7 million today) in 1929

Kind of like the modern godfather/figurehead of insider trading, Wiggin is the one man on our list who got away with his “crime.” Still, his misdeeds created such public outrage that the practice of shorting your own company’s stock provoked the passage of a namesake law outlawing it, thw Wiggins Act. Wiggin, the head of Chase National Bank, shorted 40,000 shares in the company, giving him every reason to see the bank fail. October 1929 might have been a black month for most investors, but Wiggin made out like, well, a bandit. Looking for a place to vent its anger, the public settled on Wiggin. Although, at the time what he did wasn’t illegal, public pressure forced Wiggin to forgo his $100,000 ($1.3 million today) annual pension. And his name does live on in the law books.
Marylin Star and James McDermott

10. Marilyn Star, $88,135 ($128,000 today) in 1997-98

She might be at No. 10 on our list, but Marilyn Star is our favorite insider trader. After all, she is the only porn star we’ve come across who was convicted of illicit stock trading. Star, who was born Kathryn Gannon, first came to public notice in a series of X-rated films in the early ’90s. That work led to high-end strip club appearances. After a divorce she started “dating” James McDermott, a banking exec with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. A little pillow talk later and Star had some insider information about bank mergers with which to purchase stocks. In 2002, she pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and served three months in prison. She has been quoted as saying she was a naive young woman who listened to an older man. McDermott pleaded guilty to stock fraud, served five months in jail and agreed to pay $230,000 to victims of the scheme.

Martha Stewart enters Manhattan federal court with her attorney John Tigue in March 2004 (Photo: AP)

9. Martha Stewart: $280,000 ($360,000 today) in 2004

No list of insider trading cases would be complete without the queen of baking, home decorating and crafts products. Stewart created a cottage industry around her television show and magazine that seemed unstoppable. Unstoppable until she was charged with insider trading in 2004. The amount involved might be chump change – $280,000 worth of ImClone stock – but the media attention on the case was around the clock. Stewart spent five months in prison and agreed to a ban on serving on the boards of public companies in 2006 and paid $195,000 ($226,000 today) in fines and penalties. The ban ended in 2011 and she returned to the head of her namesake company. After her stint in the big house, Stewart maintained her sense of humor, exchanging barbs with David Letterman about her time away.

8. Donald Johnson: $755,000 ($846,000 today) in 2007

Being an executive of a stock exchange ought to fund a very nice lifestyle, but that apparently wasn’t enough for the Nasdaq’s chief, Donald Johnson. Johnson was convicted in 2011 of using insider information to trade shares of United Therapeutics, Honda and other companies from 2006 to 2009. Johnson’s job on the market intelligence desk made him privy to all kinds of secrets that could move markets. He used the info to hi advantage and, ultimately, to his detriment. He pleaded guilty to one count of insider trading and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and ordered to make restitution. The Wall Street Journal reported that after his arrest Johnson said he was gratified by support he received from colleagues and would not ask them to write letters to the court on his behalf. What a guy.

Traders on the NYSE.

7. Doug Whitman, $935,000 ($1 million today) from 2006-09

Whitman managed more than $100 million through his Whitman Capital hedge fund. Whatever his reasons, and in two days of sometimes emotional testimony he denied any wrongdoing, Whitman walked a path that led him to two years in prison. He was convicted in August 2012 of insider trading charges involving stocks of Google, Polycom and Marvell Technology Group. In January, he was sentenced two years in the big house and fined $250,000.

Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Galleon Group, going to court in January. (Photo: AP)

6. Raj Rajaratnam, $53.8 million ($56 million today) in 2011

Some have reported that the man who received the longest insider trading sentence in history is living like a king in prison. The truth seems more nuanced. Sure, the former head of Galleon Capital lives on the best floor in his prison, but according to CNBC, the entire prison is a hospital and Rajaratnam is quite ill with Type II diabetes that is under “poor control.” In any case, the convicted trader received 11 years in prison for securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy. He was also ordered to pay back the $53.8 million plus a $10 million fine. His convictions were upheld earlier this year. Rajaratnam is scheduled to be released when he is 65. Others from Galleon, once among the largest hedge funds in the world, have also been convicted. They include Zvi Goffer who received a 10-year sentence and Rajat Gupta, convicted of leaking info to Rajaratnam, who was sent up the river for two years.

A diagram showing Bauer & Kluger charged in connection with an insider trading scheme (Photo: AP)

5. & 4. Garrett Bauer and Matthew Kluger, $37 million (about $45 million today) from 1994-2011

It sounds like something only Hollywood could make up. Bauer, Kluger and a middleman, Kenneth Robinson, used burner phones to discuss insider tips gleaned by Kluger from law firms for which he worked. Over 17 years, authorities said the pair turned a tidy profit of $37 million (Bauer estimated the take at $23 million) by trading shares in Sun Microsystems, 3Com and others. For his part, Bauer hit the lecture after he was nabbed in 2011, urging students not to follow his crooked path. Alas, U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden didn’t buy his contrition and sentenced Bauer to nine year in prison. Kluger got a dozen years. So much for the fancy Manhattan apartment and other luxuries purchased with the illicit profits.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Invest In 2014

Joe Nacchio, with his wife, Anne Esker (Photo: AP)

3. Joe Nacchio: $52 million ($68.7 million today) in 2001

Qwest Communications grew by leaps and bounds after its 1996 founding. Through mergers and acquisitions it provided services to 14 states west of the Mississippi, including its home state of Colorado. Sure, there were bumps along the way. But why would anyone have been worried about a $250 million SEC fine because of accounting irregularities, including a deal with Enron that may haled that company hides its own fraud? Then, in 2007, CEO Nacchio was convicted of insider trading relating to the sale in 2001of company stock based on non-public knowledge. He served 70 months in a federal prison camp and in home detention before being released on Sept. 21, 2013, according to the Denver Post. The newspaper reported that Nacchio has not divulged his plans.

Former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling

2. Jeff Skilling, $60 million ($79.2 million today) in 2001

Enron jumped on the energy trading market and was riding high. The ink that was spilled writing about the company would have to be measured by the barrel. The ink flowed faster as the truth about company’s finances became public. In 2004 Skilling was charged with 35 counts of insider trading, fraud and other crimes, including selling more than $60 million in company stock based on insider knowledge of the company’s faltering position, which resulted in a bankruptcy filing shortly afterward. In 2006, Skilling was found guilty on 19 counts and sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison. He was ordered to pay a $45 million fine. In June of this year, a judge cut his sentence to 14 years. He agreed to pay $41 million in restitution.

Ivan Boesky leaving a Brooklyn half-way house in Dec. 1989 (Photo: AP)

1. Ivan Boesky, $200 million ($1.6 billion today) in the early ’80s

The early 1980s were rife with cases. None was more spectacular than that of Boesky who used information from Wall Street insiders to time his trades and manipulate markets. Prosecutors said he received $3 billion in leverage from junk bond king Michael Milken. The scheme worked until the feds caught up with Boesky who gave up his pals, even recording conversations with Milken in 1986. Boesky’s profits came from trades from deals including Philip Morris’ acquisition of General Foods and Chevron’s purchase of Gulf. Boesky served 22 months in prison and paid a $100 million fine. Half went to his victims and the rest to the U.S. Treasury. As of last year, Boesky had a new wife and was living in San Diego.

Check out these related stories on ThinkAdvisor:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

August Retail Sales Disappoint, Reflecting Sluggish Recovery

This story has been updated from 8:53 am ET with additional information.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- August retail sales were softer than expected, reflecting a slow recovery illustrated by sluggish sales in a variety of categories apart from those tied to home buying.

U.S. food and retail sales rose 0.2% in August from July to $426.6 billion, according to the latest Commerce Department figures released on Friday, below economists' expectations of a 0.4% rise. Retail sales last month increased 4.7% compared to August 2012, according to government data. Retail sales in July were adjusted upward to 0.4% from 0.2%, according to the data.

Also see: Retail Renaissance In The Home Also see: Vera Bradley Tanks on Cautious Outlook Almost none of the categories listed by the Commerce Department had any significant gains month over month. The largest were motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 0.9% from July, as well as furniture and home furnishing stores, also up 0.9%. Electronics and appliance stores saw a 0.8% gain in August, according to the data. On the other hand, clothing and accessories fell 0.8% month over month. Retail sales excluding autos rose just 0.1% compared to expectations of 0.3% rise, according to Thomson Reuters. Excluding gas, autos and building materials, the number rose 0.2% compared to 0.3% that was expected. Economists agree that the numbers are likely forecasting weaker spending for the rest of the year as consumers struggle. As a result, the much-anticipated tapering of fed policy could be less aggressive or even delayed. "The first key economic report since Friday's employment, this morning's retail sales report was disappointing as back-to-school shopping fell short," Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza says. "Aside from autos, consumers were hesitant to loosen their purse strings, cutting back on non-essential, discretionary purchases. " "Consumption has been lackluster volleying at a near 2% rate through the first half of the year. With income growth of less than 1% and waning momentum in the jobs market, consumption is likely to falter further. And while the Fed isn't necessarily watching the monthly retail sales data as a catalyst to policy change, a slowdown in spending is indicative of underlying weakness," Piegza says. Steve Blitz, chief economist for ITG Investment Research, notes that while categories like home furniture and furnishings as well as electronics and appliances did see an uptick last month, the increase is directly related to the home buying seen this year. "We know that home sales [while] positive year over year, the rate of how positive they are has slacked off a lot," Blitz says. "The strength you saw in spending in those categories is probably going to fade as we go forward." "We're spinning in place," Blitz says. "In the sense that's there's no acceleration in sight and that's really the key thing. ... It's clear from the data we've gotten since then -- in terms of employment, housing and now retailers -- there is no acceleration. In fact, you could even argue that there's a little bit of deceleration." "The bias here over the next several months is for weaker, not stronger spending," he says. Retail sector stocks were mixed on Friday. The S&P Retail Select Industry Index was rising 0.08% to 4,149.58. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: >To submit a news tip, email: Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

5 Best Stocks For 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) -- Nestle Purina PetCare Co. said Friday that it is recalling some of its dog food because of a possible salmonella risk.

The recall is limited to 3.5-pound bags of its Purina ONE beyOnd Our White Meat Chicken & Whole Barley Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food with the sell by date of "Oct. 2014" and unit UPC code of "2014 31071083 17800 12679."

One bag of the product was found to be contaminated with salmonella and no illnesses have been reported, Nestle Purina PetCare said.

Pets with salmonella may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

The company advised customers to throw the food out and contact a veterinarian. Human contamination is also possible and can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and more serious problems such as muscle pain and eye irritation, the company said.

Customers can call Nestle Purina PetCare, at 800-473-8546, if they have questions or want a refund.

Nestle Purina PetCare is a unit of Nestle, the Switzerland-based food and drinks company.

5 Best Stocks For 2014: Randgold Res Ltd Ord(RRS.L)

Randgold Resources Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the exploration and mining of gold deposits in west and central Africa. The company holds a 80% controlling interest in the Loulo mine and Gounkoto mine, as well as a 50% interest in Morila mine located in Mali; a 89% controlling interest in the Tongon mine located in the neighboring country of C�e d?Ivoire; a 83.25% controlling interest in the Massawa project in Senegal; and a 45% interest in the Kibali project, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As of December 31, 2011, it had proven and probable reserves of 16.28 million ounces of gold. The company was founded in 1995 and is based in St. Helier, the Channel Islands.

5 Best Stocks For 2014: Schiff Nutrition International Inc.(WNI)

Schiff Nutrition International, Inc. develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes vitamins, nutritional supplements, and nutrition bars in the United States and internationally. The company?s Schiff brand products include specialty supplements for the joint care; and natural ingredients consisting of tablets, capsules, and softgel product forms. Its Schiff brand products also comprise vitamin products, including multivitamins; individual vitamins, such as vitamin B, vitamin C, and mega-D3; and minerals, which include calcium and iron. In addition, the company provides Omega-3 product line under the MegaRed brand; probiotics products under the Sustenex and Digestive Advantage brands; and joint care products under the Schiff Move Free. Further, it offers other specialty supplement products that comprise omega-3 products, such as fish oil; specialty products, such as prostate health and folic acid for men and women; and other specialty products, such as melatonin ultra, n iacin, and acidophilus. Additionally, the company provides nutrition bars that supply protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients with fewer calories under the Tiger?s Milk brand. In addition, it manufactures and distributes private label products for retail customers that include specialty supplements; vitamins; and minerals, such as joint care products, vitamin B, and calcium citrate. The company sells its products directly, as well as through brokers. Schiff Nutrition International, Inc. was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Top 10 Dividend Companies To Invest In Right Now: Pacific Andes Resources Devltd (P11.SI)

Pacific Andes Resources Development Limited, an investment holding company, engages in the development, marketing, and distribution of fish and fish products. The company manages and operates fishing vessels; sells fish and marine catches; operates ship repairing agency; trades in frozen seafood products and marine fuel; produces and sells fishmeal and fish oil; and sells marine fuel oil. It also offers charter hire services; packaging materials to fish suppliers; and a range of at-sea transportation and logistical services to fishing companies. In addition, the company is involved in fishing and property holding activities. Pacific Andes Resources Development Limited markets its products primarily in Hong Kong and other regions in the People�s Republic of China; east Asia, South America, Europe, Africa, and internationally. The company was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Pacific Andes Resources Development Limited is a subsidiary of Clamford Holding Limited.

5 Best Stocks For 2014: Auric Pacific Group Limited(A23.SI)

Auric Pacific Group Limited, an investment holding company, primarily engages in the distribution of fast moving consumer food and non-food products. It distributes commercial and fine wines, spirits, cosmetics, and health supplements. The company also involves in the manufacturing of food products, including bread and bakery products, butter and cheese, dairy spread and margarine, buns, and cream rolls, as well as frozen food products, such as frozen pizzas, garlic bread, pies, and pastries under the Sunshine, Top-One, SSC, and Buttercup brands. In addition, it involves in the management and operation of a chain of food courts under Food Junction, Food Culture, FJ Square, The Food Place, and Food Garden brand names, as well as operates cafe-bakeries, bakery corners, restaurants, and food courts and outlets. Further, the company engages in the providing catering and central kitchen production services; leasing residential and commercial properties; and investing in funds a nd quoted investment securities. It operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China. Auric Pacific Group Limited was incorporated in 1988 and is headquartered in Singapore.

5 Best Stocks For 2014: kazakhmys ord gbp0.20(KAZ.L)

Kazakhmys PLC, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the mining and processing of copper and other metals. The company operates 17 underground and open pit mines in Kazakhstan. It produces and sells zinc, silver, and gold as by-products. In addition, the company engages in the smelting and refining of copper anodes and cathodes; and operates three coal-fired plants. It primarily has operations in Europe, China, and Kazakhstan. The company was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom.

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Best Clean Energy Stocks To Watch Right Now

Deutsche Bank announced on Monday that is was maintaining a “Hold” rating on the New Jersey-based electric utility company NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), but went on to lower its price target for the company.

Greg Poole, an analyst with the firm, commented, “NRG has several diverse businesses – generation, retail, solar, clean energy technologies, and now a separate MLP-like income vehicle for contracted assets. This helps to diversify away from the seemingly perennially challenged merchant generation business, but it also results in an increasingly complex story that may pose a challenge for investors and valuation.” As such, Deutsche Bank announced it was lowering its price target from $27 to $26 a share.

5 Best Clean Energy Stocks To Watch Right Now: Providence Capital Corp(PV.V)

Providence Resources Corp., a junior mining exploration company, engages in the evaluation, acquisition, exploration, and development of precious and base mineral properties. The company focuses on exploring for copper, gold, silver, lead-zinc, and iron-oxide copper-gold metals. It holds an option to acquire a 60% interest in the Iron Range property located in south‐eastern British Columbia near the community of Creston. The company was formerly known as Providence Capital Corp. and changed its name to Providence Resources Corp. in January 2011. Providence Resources Corp. was incorporated in 2006 and is based in Vancouver, Canada.

5 Best Clean Energy Stocks To Watch Right Now: Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior S.A. (BLX)

Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. provides trade financing to commercial banks, middle-market companies, and corporations primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. The company operates in three segments: Commercial, Treasury, and Asset Management. The Commercial segment offers deposits and loans for foreign trade transactions. This segment also provides various products, services, and solutions relating to foreign trade, which include co-financing arrangements, underwriting of syndicated credit facilities, structured trade financing, asset-based financing in the form of factoring, vendor financing and leasing, and other fee-based services, such as electronic clearing services. The Treasury segment offers liquidity management and investment securities activities, including management of interest rate, liquidity, price, and currency risks. The Asset Management segment provides asset management services, including investment advisory services for funds and managed accounts. This division is involved in trading foreign exchange, interest rate swaps, and derivative products. The company was formerly known as Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones, S.A. and changed its name to Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. in June 2009. Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. was founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Panama City, the Republic of Panama.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Panama-based supranational bank�Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior� (NYSE: BLX  ) announced yesterday its second-quarter dividend of $0.30 per share, the same rate it's paid for the past three quarters after raising the payout 20% from $0.25 per share.

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (NYSE: BLX  ) , better and more conveniently known as Bladex, is maintaining its dividend policy. The lender has declared a payout of $0.30 per share of its stock for its Q1, to be paid on May 7 to shareholders of record as of April 29. This amount matches the company's previous disbursement, which has been paid in both of the preceding two quarters. Before that, Bladex dispensed $0.25 per share.

Best Stocks To Buy Right Now: Cameron International Corp (CAM)

Cameron International Corporation (Cameron), incorporated on November 10, 1994, provides flow equipment products, systems and services to worldwide oil, gas and process industries. Cameron operates in three business segments: Drilling and Production Systems (DPS), Valves & Measurement (V&M) and Process & Compression Systems (PCS). The DPS segment includes businesses, which provides systems and equipment used to control pressures and direct flows of oil and gas wells. The V&M segment includes businesses, which provides valves and measurement systems used to control, direct and measure the flow of oil and gas as they are moved from individual wellheads through flow lines, gathering lines and transmission systems to refineries, petrochemical plants and industrial centers for processing. The PCS segment includes businesses, which provides standard and custom-engineered process packages for separation and treatment of impurities within oil and gas and compression equipment and aftermarket parts and services to the oil, gas and process industries. During the year ended December 31, 2011, it acquired LeTourneau Technologies, Inc. (LeTourneau) from Joy Global Inc. During 2011, it acquired Vescon Equipamentos Industrias Ltda. During 2011, it acquired 51% interest in Newmans Valves. In September 2012, TTS Group ASA sold its drilling equipment business to the Company. Effective August 5, 2013, Cameron International Corp acquired a 75% interest in Douglas Chero SpA, from Consilium SGR SpA.

Drilling & Production Systems Segment

Cameron�� products are employed in a range of operating environments, including basic onshore fields, complex onshore and offshore environments, deepwater subsea applications and ultra-high temperature geothermal operations. The products within this segment include surface and subsea production systems, blowout preventers (BOPs), drilling and production control systems, block valves, gate valves, actuators, chokes, wellheads, manifolds, drilling risers, top drive! s, mud pumps, other rig products and aftermarket parts and services. In addition, the DPS segment designs and manufactures structural components for land and offshore drilling rigs. The segment�� businesses also manufacture elastomers, which are used in pressure and flow control equipment and other petroleum industry applications, as well as in the petroleum, petrochemical, rubber molding and plastics industries. The businesses within this segment market their products directly to end-users through a worldwide network of sales and marketing employees, supported by agents in some international locations. Customers include oil and gas majors, national oil companies, independent producers, engineering and construction companies, drilling contractors, rental companies and geothermal energy producers. The businesses included in this segment are Drilling Systems, Surface Systems, Subsea Systems and Flow Control.

Drilling Systems is a global supplier of integrated drilling systems for onshore and offshore applications. Drilling equipment designed and manufactured includes ram and annular BOPs, control systems, drilling risers, drilling valves, choke and kill manifolds, diverter systems, top drives, draw works, mud pumps, other rig products and aftermarket parts and services. The products are marketed under the Cameron, Guiberson, H&H CUSTOM, H&H, Melco, LeTourneau, Lewco, OEM and Townsend brand names. Surface Systems is a global market in supplying surface production equipment, from conventional to high-pressure, high temperature (HPHT) wellheads, production systems and controls, block valves, gate valves, mudline systems, dry completion systems and aftermarket parts and services. The products are marketed under the Cameron, Camrod, IC, McEvoy, Precision, SBS, Tundra, Willis and WKM brand names. Cameron, which has a global base of installed equipment and an aftermarket presence in hydrocarbon-producing region worldwide, is the provider of surface production equipment. Surface Systems added new s! ales and ! aftermarket facilities in the Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Haynesville shale regions.

Subsea Systems is a provider of subsea wellheads, production systems and controls, manifolds and aftermarket parts and services to customers worldwide, from basic subsea tree orders to integrated solutions, as well as installation and aftermarket support. These products are marketed under the Cameron, Mars, McEvoy and Willis brand names. Flow Control provides chokes, actuators, gears, valve accessories and automation solutions to other Cameron businesses, as well as to other industry manufacturers and directly to end users under such brand names as Cameron, Dynatorque, Ledeen, Maxtorque, Test and Willis. Flow Control has expanded its subsea chemical injection metering valve (CIMV) product line, introducing a high-flow CIMV.

Valves & Measurement Segment

Cameron�� products include gate valves, ball valves, butterfly valves, Orbit valves, double block & bleed valves, plug valves, globe valves, check valves, actuators, chokes and aftermarket parts and services, as well as measurement products such as totalizers, turbine meters, flow computers, chart recorders, ultrasonic flow meters and sampling systems. This equipment and the related services are marketed through a worldwide network of combined sales and marketing employees, as well as distributors and agents in selected international locations. Customers include oil and gas majors, independent producers, engineering and construction companies, pipeline operators, drilling contractors and major chemical, petrochemical and refining companies. The businesses included in this segment are Distributed Valves, Engineered Valves, Process Valves, Measurement Systems and Aftermarket Services.

Distributed Valves provides a range of valves used in the exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas, with products sold through a network of wholesalers and distributors, primarily in North America and to upstream markets in A! sia-Pacif! ic and the Middle East. These valves are marketed under the brand names Cooper, Demco, Navco, Newco, Nutron, OIC, Techno, Texstream, Thornhill Craver, Wheatley and WKM. Engineered Valves provides a range of customized ball, gate and check valves serving the oil and gas production, pipeline, subsea and liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets. Products are marketed under the brand names Cameron, Entech, Grove, Ring-O, TK and Tom Wheatley.

Process Valves provides valves under the brand names of General Valve, Orbit, TBV and WKM for use in critical service applications that are often subject to extreme temperature conditions, particularly in refinery, power generation, including nuclear, chemical, petrochemical, gas processing and liquid storage terminal markets, including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Measurement Systems designs, manufactures and distributes measurement products, systems and solutions to the global oil and gas, process and power industries. The Company�� main product brand names include Barton, Caldon, Clif Mock, Jiskoot, Linco, Nuflo and PAAI. Aftermarket Services provides preventative maintenance, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) spare parts, repair, field service, asset management and remanufactured products for valves and actuators.

Process & Compression Systems Segment

Integrally geared centrifugal compressors are used by customers worldwide in a range of industries, including air separation, petrochemical, chemical and process gas. Products include oil and gas separation equipment, heaters, dehydration and desalting units, gas conditioning units, membrane separation systems, water processing systems, integral engine-compressors, separable reciprocating compressors, two and four-stroke cycle gas engines, turbochargers, integrally-geared centrifugal compressors, compressor systems and controls. Aftermarket services include spare parts, technical services, repairs, overhauls and upgrades. The businesses included in this segment are Process System! s, Recipr! ocating Compression and Centrifugal Compression.

The process systems businesses provide custom-engineered process packages to oil and gas majors, national oil companies, independent operators and engineering, procurement and construction companies worldwide for separation and treatment of oil, gas, water and solids. Products offered include separators, heaters, dehydration and desalting units, gas conditioning units, membrane separation systems, water processing systems and aftermarket parts and services. PCS markets its process systems products under the Cameron, Consept, Cynara, Hydromation, KCC, Metrol, Mozley, NATCO, Petreco, Porta-test, Unicel, Vortoil and Wemco brand names.

Reciprocating Compression equipment is used throughout the energy industry by gas transmission companies, compression leasing companies, oil and gas producers and independent power producers. Reciprocating Compression products and services are marketed under the Ajax, Cooper-Bessemer, CSI, Enterprise, Superior, Texcentric and TSI brand names. Ajax integral engine-compressors, which combine the engine and compressor on a single drive shaft, are used for gas re-injection and storage, as well as on smaller gathering and transmission lines. Superior-brand separable compressors are used for natural gas applications, including production, storage, withdrawal, processing and transmission, as well as petrochemical processing. These high-speed separable compressor units can be matched with either natural gas engine drivers or electric motors. Reciprocating Compression also provides global support for its products and maintains sales and service offices in key international locations. During 2011, approximately 60% of the Reciprocating Compression revenues were generated by sales of aftermarket parts and services in support of the Company�� worldwide installed base of compression equipment. Customers for Reciprocating Compression products include oil and gas majors, national oil companies, petrochemical and re! fining co! mpanies, midstream natural gas companies, independent power producers and compressed natural gas distribution companies.

Centrifugal Compression manufactures and supplies integrally geared centrifugal compressors and provides aftermarket services to customers worldwide. Centrifugal air compressors, used in manufacturing processes (plant air), are sold under the Turbo-Air. Engineered compressors are used in the process air and gas industries and are identified by the MSG. The process and plant air centrifugal compressors deliver oil-free compressed air and other gases to customers, thus preventing oil contamination of the finished products. Centrifugal Compression also provides installation and maintenance services, parts, repairs, overhauls and upgrades to its worldwide customers for plant air and process gas compressors. It also provides aftermarket service and repairs on all equipment it produces through a worldwide network of distributors, service centers and field service technicians utilizing an extensive inventory of parts marketed under the Joy brand name. Centrifugal Compression customers include oil and gas majors, national oil companies, air separation companies, independent power producers, petrochemical and refining companies, midstream natural gas companies and durable goods manufacturers.

The Company competes with Aker Solutions, Balon Corporation, Circor International, Inc., Dover Corporation, Dril-Quip, Inc., Emerson Process Management, FlowServ Corp., FMC Technologies, Inc., GE Oil & Gas Group, Stream-Flo Industries Ltd., National Oilwell Varco Inc., Zy-Tech Global Industries company, Flotek Industries, Inc., Pibiviese, Robbins & Myers Fluid Management Group, SPX Corporation�� Flow Technology Segment, Tyco International Ltd., Weatherford, Ltd., Ariel Corporation, Compressor Engineering Corporation, Demag, Dresser-Rand Company, FS-Elliott Company LLC, Endyn Energy Dynamics, Hoerbiger Group and IR Air Solutions.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Still, Schlumberger has plenty of ammunition of its own to bolster its growth. The company recently closed on its OneSubsea joint venture with Cameron International (NYSE: CAM  ) to take even greater advantage of opportunities in subsurface production. With Cameron's design, manufacturing, and installation experience, Schlumberger hopes to bolster its own expertise in completing subsea wells and providing reliable equipment and give clients an integrated solution for their sea-drilling needs.

5 Best Clean Energy Stocks To Watch Right Now: Astronics Corporation(ATRO)

Astronics Corporation, through its subsidiaries, designs and manufactures products for the aerospace and defense industries worldwide. It operates in two segments, Aerospace and Test Systems. The Aerospace segment?s product lines include aircraft lighting, cabin electronics, airframe power, avionics databus products, and airfield lighting. This segment serves airframe manufacturers that build aircraft for the commercial, military, and general aviation markets; suppliers; and aircraft operators, such as airlines and branches of the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration and airport operators. The Test Systems segment designs, develops, manufactures, and maintains communications and weapons test systems, and training and simulation devices for military applications. It sells its products primarily to the U.S. military, foreign militaries, and manufacturers of military communication systems. The company was founded in 1968 and is headquart ered in East Aurora, New York.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Smith]

    Astronics Corp. (NASDAQ: ATRO  ) is bulking up in aerospace.

    On Tuesday, the manufacturer of high-performance lighting, electrical power, and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries announced that it has agreed to buy fellow aerospace interior components maker PECO for approximately $136 million, cash. Privately owned PECO is a supplier to Boeing and a maker of fuel access doors and also "passenger service units" that incorporate air handling, emergency oxygen, electrical power management, and cabin lighting systems.�

  • [By Jeremy Bowman]

    What: Shares of Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO  ) were headed for the stars today, gaining 11% after a strong quarterly earnings report.

5 Best Clean Energy Stocks To Watch Right Now: Brazilian Gold Corp (BGC.V)

Brazilian Gold Corporation, an exploration stage company, engages in the acquisition, exploration, and development of mineral properties in Brazil and Canada. The company explores primarily for gold and uranium deposits. Its principal project is the S茫o Jorge gold project that consists of 11 exploration concessions covering a total area of approximately 50,602 hectares in the Tapaj贸s region of Northern Brazil. The company was formerly known as Red Dragon Resources Corp. and changed its name to Brazilian Gold Corporation in January 2010. Brazilian Gold Corporation is based in Vancouver, Canada.