The Complete Guide to Currency Trading & Investing: How to Earn High Rates of Return Safely and Take Control of Your Investments

The Complete Guide to Currency Trading & Investing: How to Earn High Rates of Return Safely and Take Control of Your Investments

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In recent years many smart investors have exited the stock market and other investment areas because they have essentially lost control of their investments. They have relied on the advice and skill of their brokers, bankers, and financial advisors. Many investment and retirement accounts have dwindled. Fortunately, there is a wonderful but little-understood alternative: currency trading and investing. As with many other business segments, the Internet and technology have opened up this attracti

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Cuban Missile Crisis, the Sequel; $3,000 Gold Possible

In what appears as swift retaliation by Iran against U.S.-led economic sanctions imposed on the Persian Gulf state, suddenly Iran says it will no longer accept the U.S. dollar as payment for its oil shipments to India, Japan and China.

In addition, bilateral trade between Iran and Russia will break from the dollar for settlement in favor of Iranian rial and Russian rubles, according to Iran�s state-run Fars news agency.� Sign-up for my 100% FREE Alerts

But unlike a similarly bold move taken on Oct. 30, 2000, (effective Nov. 6) by Saddam Hussein to rid Iraq of the U.S. dollar as payment for Iraqi oil, Iran asserts the new arrangement to drop the dollar was Russia’s idea.

�The proposal to switch to the ruble and the rial was raised by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Astana, Kazakhstan, of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,� according to Bloomberg.

So, is the U.S. about to embark on another Iraq, or is the situation with Iran more akin to an October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with Cuba’s big brother, Russia?

Amazingly, or not (media ignored the euro-for-Iraqi-oil story, too), since the bombshell Iranian announcement, only a handful of news outlets of the West covered the dollar-dumping announcement of this vital story.� Of course, though, (and’s posting of the zerohedge post) was one of these handful, providing adequate sourcing and commentary of the breaking news about Iran/Russia from China-based

Most of the usual suspects of traditional media, however, have drawn attention to the threat of a closing of the Strait of Hormuz, instead�an important issue, no doubt, but its no longer news at this point in the crisis and certainly doesn’t compete with the latest development regarding the trashing of the Greenback from a member of OPEC on the same day Russia lays anchor in Syria to the north of Israel.

According to China Da! ily, �Ru ssian warships patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea have docked at Russia’s naval supply facility in the Syrian port of Tartus, the private Addounia TV reported Saturday.

�Governor of Tartus Imad Naddaf received the ships’ leaders and expressed appreciation to Russia’s support for Syria, the report said.

�Russia’s state-owned Itar-Tass news agency quoted a source from the Russian Navy as saying that ‘It is planned that the port of Tartus will be visited by a big anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet Admiral Chabanenko and an escort ship Yaroslav Mudry.

So, it appears that the Iranians are a lot more prepared to deal with the U.S. than its neighbor to the West was, Iraq.

And for those familiar with the most likely reason for the attack on Iraq may also be familiar with William R. Clark, author of Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar.� Of course, ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was merely a sophomoric ruse in the call to war with Iraq.� So what was the reason?

In his book, Clark makes a case for a world that will most probably include a future riddled with war in the Middle East, as the U.S. takes preemptive measures to secure�not only oil�but more importantly, to assure a continuation of dollar hegemony in global trade as a means of preventing a Greenback collapse as a medium of exchange and value.

As a preface to his book, Clark posited an essay in January 2003, titled, Revisited — The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth.� In the essay, Clark cites an anonymous source who told him the NY Fed (through the Treasury ESF) ultimately dictates foreign policy via the U.S. dollar, and that any threat to the artificial support of the dollar must illicit an immediate response at the NSA level.

After reading Clark’s essay, anonymous, or not, the source appears to be a very, very good o! ne.

< p>According to anonymous:

The Federal Reserve’s greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 82 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar’s steady depreciation against the euro. (Note: the dollar declined 17% against the euro in 2002.)

The real reason the Bush administration wants a puppet government in Iraq — or more importantly, the reason why the corporate-military-industrial network conglomerate wants a puppet government in Iraq — is so that it will revert back to a dollar standard and stay that way. (While also hoping to veto any wider OPEC momentum towards the euro, especially from Iran — the 2nd largest OPEC producer who is actively discussing a switch to euros for its oil exports).

Saddam sealed his fate when he decided to switch to the euro in late 2000 (and later converted his $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euros) — at that point, another manufactured Gulf War become inevitable under Bush II. Only the most extreme circumstances could possibly stop that now and I strongly doubt anything can — short of Saddam getting replaced with a pliant regime.

Big Picture Perspective: Everything else aside from the reserve currency and the Saudi/Iran oil issues (i.e. domestic political issues and international criticism) is peripheral and of marginal consequence to this administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that they will rather risk much of the economic backlash in the short-term to stave off the long-term dollar crash of an OPEC transaction standard change from dollars to euros. All of this fits into the broader Great Game that encompasses Russia, India, China.� [Emphasis added]

As we know, following Iraq’s decision to dump the dolla! r in fav or of the Euro, 14 months later U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his ‘Axis of Evil’ speech on the first State of the Union address of his presidency on Jan. 23, 2002.� Iraq, Iran and N. Korean are the nations of that axis, according to Bush.

With Iraq as the first casualty of the Great Game, that leaves Iran and N. Korea left as targets and responses from Russia and China.

Calls for $3,000 gold are everywhere.� With central banks printing money at astonishing rates without formally announcing anything about it; tensions in the Persian Gulf rivaling the Cuban Missile Crisis; and an election year that sports the most threatening presidential candidate (Congressman Ron Paul of Texas) to the ‘establishment’ since John Kennedy (or maybe as far back as Theodore Roosevelt 1900-08), it appears early on that surviving 2012 without a major event is a very long shot, indeed.� Sign-up for my 100% FREE Alerts

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Bankers Life and Casualty Co. will pay $9.9 million to Maine and several other states in an agreement with securities regulators settling allegations that it participated in brokerage activities without the appropriate licensing.

The case dates back to 2005, when Bankers Life reached an agreement with Uvest Financial Inc. in which agents for the carrier who became registered representatives with Uvest would be allowed to provide advisory and brokerage services out of Bankers Life branches.

Under the agreement with the broker-dealer, Bankers Life participated in a number of securities-related activities, including working with Uvest to determine the compensation paid to the agents and to select the product offerings available to them. The carrier also was responsible for covering agents' training prep for Finra exams and paying for investment research materials in the branch offices.

Bankers Life pocketed 82% to 85% of the commissions Uvest received for the agents' securities activities, according to Maine state regulators, who received cooperation from the North American Securities Administrators Association in investigating the case.

The carrier reached a similar agreement with ProEquities, in which Bankers Life took as much as 91% of the revenue the broker-dealer had made from agents' securities sales.

Between 2005 and 2011, Bankers Life received $21 million from the firms, with $15 million going toward agents' compensation and $6 million going to the carrier, state officials claimed.

Judith Shaw, Maine's securities administrator and the lead regulator on the case, said that her department was tipped off to the situation at Bankers Life after an 82-year-old investor called to complain that a Bankers Life agent had suggested that she liquidate some investments to purchase an annuity.

Though the securities department was able to unwind the transaction, Maine regulators felt Bankers Life warranted a closer look. “When we went to Bankers Life's branch office and looked at ! its brok er-dealer operations, we realized that Bankers Life itself was engaged in unlicensed broker-dealer activity,” Ms. Shaw said.

The settlement also affects Bankers Life's Finra-registered broker-dealer, BLC Financial Services Inc. Although none of the agents involved was registered with it — they were with Uvest or ProEquities — the settlement requires BLC to withdraw its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission and terminate its relationship with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.

Ms. Shaw noted that it isn't unusual for broker-dealers to share office space with non-securities entities or to have insurance producers who are properly licensed for securities transactions.

In this case, however, Bankers Life received a “fair amount” of compensation for undertaking activities that would normally be handled by a broker-dealer, including assuring that agents took the appropriate Finra exams and covering the cost of prep courses, Ms. Shaw said.

“These are activities we'd expect to see from broker-dealers — not an insurer that wants to share commissions on certain sales,” she added.

The carrier also will pay $375,000 to reimburse the states for the cost of the investigation, $260,000 in past licensing and registration fees and $106,000 to cover the cost of state audits. It also agreed to a quiet period ending in March 2015, during which neither it nor BLC will engage in any securities activities.

“This joint investigation … demonstrates the ongoing value of states working together to benefit investors nationwide,” said Jack E. Herstein, NASAA president and assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance.

State securities regulators also reached settlements with Uvest and ProEquities, with the former paying $750,000 and the latter agreeing to a payment of $435,000.

“The recent settlement agreement between NASAA and BLC Financial Services puts another legacy issue behind us,&#! 8221; sa id Bankers Life spokeswoman Barbara Ciesemier. “Bankers branches will continue to serve the needs of the marketplace through ProEquities-registered advisers who are co-located in our branches. The steps taken in this settlement should ensure additional clarity between the roles of agents and financial advisers.”

"Uvest fully cooperated with the NASAA task force and entered into a consent order for the sole purpose of avoiding protracted and expensive proceedings," said Michael Herley, a spokesman for LPL Financial LLC, which now owns the broker-dealer. "Uvest did not admit to any wrongdoing and there was no allegation of sales practice violations or customer harm against Uvest. The company is happy to put the matter to rest.”

“ProEquities fully cooperated with NASAA in its investigation of Bankers Life," said Mike Mungenast, president and CEO of the firm. "We are ready to move ahead and will continue to work with all regulatory bodies with a spirit of compliance for the good of our industry and the investors we serve.”

CoreLogic Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of financial data aggregator CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX  ) climbed 10% today after the company's full-year 2012 guidance topped Wall Street estimates.

So what: CoreLogic's outlook for 2012 is so bright -- the company now sees full-year EPS of $0.95 to $1.05 versus the consensus of only $0.89 -- that analysts have no choice but to raise their valuation estimates. Just this past August, the board of directors explored a possible sale of the company to unlock shareholder value, but the strong guidance suggests that management might be able to do it on their own.

Now what: "CoreLogic is exiting 2011 with strong momentum driven primarily by an upswing in mortgage origination volumes and successful execution of our Project 30 cost reduction plan," CEO Anand Nallathambi said. "Continued revenue growth and cost savings position CoreLogic for strong financial results in 2012." In fact, management is highly confident that it will be able to save about $60 million in expenses in 2012. However, given its low returns on equity and still-precarious financial position, CoreLogic remains a questionable long-term opportunity. �

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013

There's a saying on Wall Street that you can't cut your way to growth. That may be true over the long haul, but in the short term? Not so much. Just witness the ongoing V-shaped recovery in corporate earnings, where profits are soaring, but sales are not.

The fourth-quarter earnings reporting season currently under way looks pretty much like all the others since corporate profits bounced back from their nadir during the recession. Earnings are growing handsomely thanks to margin-expanding cost cuts -- not a commensurate rebound in revenue.

Analysts, on average, expect the S&P 500 ($INX) to post year-over-year quarterly earnings growth of 32% this season, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Revenue, however, is forecast to increase just 6%.

The only way a company can increase profits faster than sales is by reducing expenses, and that has some observers fretting that the days of heady earnings growth are poised to peter out.

"While companies have been producing strong double-digit earnings gains on the back of single-digit revenue growth coupled with significant cost reductions over recent quarters, further gains are limited," Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, told clients ahead of earnings season. "There is little room to squeeze out additional expenses in 2013 particularly given that costs associated with materials, energy, and expanding workforces are rising."

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:Educational Development Corporation (EDUC)

 Educational Development Corporation operates as a trade publisher of a line of children?s books in the United States. It distributes children?s books published by Usborne Publishing Limited in the United Kingdom. The company offers various books, including Touchy-Feely board books, jigsaw puzzle books, activity and flashcards, adventure and search books, art books, sticker books, and foreign language books, as well as science and math titles, and chapter books and novels. It sells books through two divisions, Usborne Books and More, and Publishing. The Usborne Books and More division distributes books through independent consultants, who hold book showings in individual homes; and through book fairs, direct sales, and Internet sales. It also distributes these titles to school and public libraries. The Publishing division markets books to bookstores, toy stores, specialty stores, museums, and other retail outlets. It distributes books through commissioned trade representatives who call on book, toy, specialty stores, and other retail outlets; and through in-house marketing by telephone to the trade. The company was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:United Bancshares Inc. (UBOH)

 United Bancshares, Inc. operates as a bank holding company for The Union Bank Company that engages in the provision of commercial banking services to small and middle-market businesses and individuals. It accepts various deposit products, including checking accounts, savings and money market accounts, time certificates of deposit, time deposits, and demand deposits. The company also offers various loan products that consist of commercial, consumer, agricultural, residential mortgage, and home equity loans. In addition, it provides automatic teller machine services, safe deposit box rentals, and other personalized banking services. The company serves primarily in the Ohio counties of Allen, Hancock, Putnam, Sandusky, Van Wert, and Wood, as well as with office locations in Bowling Green, Columbus Grove, Delphos, Findlay, Gibsonburg, Kalida, Leipsic, Lima, Ottawa, and Pemberville, Ohio. United Bancshares, Inc. was founded in 1904 and is headquartered in Columbus Grove, Ohio.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:TotalFinaElf S.A. (TOT)

 TOTAL S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated oil and gas company worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals. The Upstream segment engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas. It also involves in the transportation, trade, and marketing of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as in LNG re-gasification and natural gas storage operations. In addition, this segment engages in the shipping and trade of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); power generation from gas-fired power plants, nuclear, or renewable energies; production, trade, and marketing of coal, as well as in solar power systems and technology operations. As of December 31, 2010, it had combined proved reserves of 10,695 Mboe of oil and gas. The Downstream segment involves in refining, marketing, trading, and shipping crude oil and petroleum products. It also produces a range of specialty products, such as lubricants, LPG, jet fuel, special fluids, bitumen, marine fuels, and petrochemical feedstock. This segment holds interests in 24 refineries located in Europe, the United States, the French West Indies, Africa, and China, as well as operates a network of 17,490 service stations. The Chemicals segment produces base chemicals, including petrochemicals and fertilizers, as well as engages in rubber processing, resins, adhesives, and electroplating activities. TOTAL S.A. was founded in 1924 and is based in Paris, France.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Dave Friedman At 2011-9-23

    Institutional investors bought 15,892,820 shares and sold 13,997,360 shares, for a net of 1,895,460 shares. This net represents 0.08% of common shares outstanding. The number of shares outstanding is 2,234,829,040. The shares recently traded at $46.80 and the company’s market capitalization is $109,165,864,774.97. About the company: Total SA explores for, produces, refines, transports, and markets oil and natural! gas. Th e Company also operates a chemical division which produces polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, rubber, paint, ink, adhesives, and resins. Total operates gasoline filling stations in Europe, the United States, and Africa.

  • By Glenn At 2011-8-26


    TOT has a market capitalization of $130 billion. Its dividend yield last year of 5% is among the best in the industry. Current P/E ratio of 9.2 seems very attractive compared to the industry average of 12. The stock prices did not participate much in the recent bull market. While smaller sized competitors such as ConocoPhillips (COP), Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO) and Statoil ASA (STO) offered spectacular returns (ranging from 30% to 50%), Total’s return in 2010 was only 2%. One may find that the price will catch up with profits.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:Pitney Bowes Inc (PBI)

 Pitney Bowes Inc. provides mail processing equipment and integrated mail solutions worldwide. It offers a suite of equipment, supplies, software, services, and solutions for managing and integrating physical and digital communication channels. The company?s Small & Medium Business Solutions group engages in the sale, rental, and financing of mail finishing, mail creation, and shipping equipment and software; provision of supply, support, and other professional services; and provision of payment solutions. Its Enterprise Business Solutions group sells, supports, and offers other professional services for high-speed production mail systems, and sorting and production print equipment; and sells and provides support services for non-equipment-based mailing, customer relationship and communication, and location intelligence software. This group also offers facilities management services; secure mail services; reprographic document management services; and litigation support and eDiscovery services, as well as provides presort mail services and cross-border mail services; and direct marketing services. Pitney Bowes Inc. markets its products and services through its sales force, direct mailings, outbound telemarketing, and independent distributors and dealers to various business, governmental, institutional, and other organizations. The company, formerly known as Pitney Bowes Postage Meter Company, was founded in 1920 and headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By Jim Lowell At 2011-10-6

    Pitney Bowes (PBI) provides mail processing equipment and integrated mail solutions in the United States and internationally. The company is a member of the dividend aristocrats index and has raised distributions for 29 years in a row. Yield: 5.90%.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB)

 Kimberly-Clark Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of various health care products worldwide. The company operates in four segments: Personal Care, Consumer Tissue, K-C Professional & Other, and Health Care. The Personal Care segment provides disposable diapers, training and youth pants, and swimpants; baby wipes; and feminine and incontinence care products, and related products. It offers its products primarily for household use under various brand names, including Huggies, Pull-Ups, Little Swimmers, GoodNites, Kotex, Lightdays, Depend, and Poise. The Consumer Tissue segment offers facial and bathroom tissue, paper towels, napkins, and related products for household use under the Kleenex, Scott, Cottonelle, Viva, Andrex, Scottex, Hakle, and Page brands. The K-C Professional & Other segment offers facial and bathroom tissue, paper towels, napkins, wipers, and a range of safety products for the away-from-home marketplace under Kimberly-Clark, Kleenex, Scott, WypAll, Kimtech, KleenGuard, Kimcare, and Jackson brand names. The Health Care segment offers disposable health care products, such as surgical drapes and gowns, infection control products, face masks, exam gloves, respiratory products, pain management products, and other disposable medical products under the Kimberly-Clark, Ballard, and ON-Q brand names. The company sells its products to supermarkets; mass merchandisers; drugstores; warehouse clubs; variety and department stores; retail outlets; manufacturing, lodging, office building, food service, and health care establishments; and high volume public facilities. It markets its products through wholesalers, distributors, and direct sales. The company was founded in 1872 and is based in Dallas, Texas.

Advisors' Opinion:

  • By JON C. OGG At 2011-12-6

    Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB) is at $64.07 and analysts have a consensus price target objective of $70.46.  It carries a 4.4% dividend yield and the stock is down 6.4% from its 52-week high.  The price to book value is about 4.  S&P carries a “A” rating on its local long-term system.  Kleenex, Huggies, Kotex, Depend, and on… Hard to live without.

  • By Chuck At 2011-10-28

    Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and marketing of various health care products worldwide. The company operates in four segments: Personal Care, Consumer Tissue, K-C Professional & Other, and Health Care. The company has raised distributions for 38 consecutive years and yields 4.20%. The company is attractively valued at the moment at14.30 times earnings.

  • By Jeff Reeves At 2011-10-21

    Kimberly-Clark Corp. (NYSE: KMB) is a paper products giant, best known for brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies and Kotex. It sells products in more than 150 countries.

    Current Yield: 4.1% ($2.80 a share annually)

    Dividend History: In July 2010, Kimberly-Clark paid a quarterly dividend of 66 cents a share. This July, it will pay 70 cents, or a 6% increase. Also, the company has paid dividends since 1935.

    Dividend Outlook: According to Bloomberg, the three-year expected dividend growth rate of KMB is 5.6%.

    Recent Performance: Kimberly-Clark has tracked the market so far in 2011, but has been rallying strongly in the past 30 days. KMB stock is up against a new 52-week high as of this writing.

    Strong Outlook for Shares: Part of the reason Kimberly-Clark has been on a tear is because it raised revenue guidance in its April 25 earnings report. The company’s global reach grants it stability, and its big brand names and connection with consumers means KMB products will be in demand even if the economy sours.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013:Kimco Realty Corporation (KIM)

 Kimco Realty Corporation is a publicly owned real estate investment trust. The firm engages in acquisitions, development, and management of neighborhood and community shopping centers. It also provides property management services relating to the management, leasing, operation, and maintenance of real estate properties. The firm primarily invests in real estate markets across the globe with a focus in North America. It also invests in operating properties. The firm also provides equity and mezzanine debt to developers and owners of commercial properties. It also makes secondary market investments including under performing mortgage loans, secured bank debt, and corporate securities. Kimco was formed in 1960 and is based in New Hyde Park, New York with additional office in Mesa, Arizona; Daly City, California; Granite Bay, California; Irvine, California; Carmichael, California; Vista, California; Walnut Creek, California; West Hartford, Connecticut; Largo, Florida; Margate, Florida; Sanford, Florida; Lisle, Illinois; Rosemont, Illinois; Columbia, Maryland; Lutherville, Maryland; Bellevue, Washington; Mesquite, Texas; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Austin, Texas; Ardmore, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Kettering, Ohio; Canfield, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; New York, New York; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Best Dividend Stocks In 2013: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 George Putn At 2012-1-11

    PepsiCo (PEP, Thursday close: $64.85). Soft-drink and snack maker is "defensive play" with a plump dividend yield of 3.2% and reasonable valuation. It should sell more snacks if commodity prices remain weak.

  • By JON C. OGG At 2011-12-6

    Pepsico, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) was most recently at $64.67 and the analyst community price target is $76.67.  Investors get a 3.2% dividend here and its shares are down 10% from its 52-week high. The price to book value is 4 and its return on equity is about 28%.  S&P has an “A” rating its local long-term system.  Pepsi is often considered to be more like Coca-Cola, but its snack food business gives it at least some of the same aspects of Kraft.  CEO Indra Nooyi has been performing well and growing its int! ernation al operations.  We would not expect for Pepsi to break itself up.

  • By Chuck At 2011-12-6

    PepsiCo Inc. is a strong defensive play with steady and stable growth and dividend yield. It provides investors with a place to park low-risk capital.

    The stock has had a tight trading range in the last year. It is extremely liquid and has a liquid options market.

    Let’s buy our exposure while the market is weak overall, but use the market to help average into this one. If you want to invest 3% of your low-risk portfolio, let’s buy 2% at market now.

    For the last third, let’s put in a limit order at 5% below your first fill.

    Pepsi also makes a great covered-call vehicle. The stock is not going to run away from us if we cap our near-term upside, and if it did, we can always repurchase it on weakness.

  • By ETF Authority At 2011-11-21

    Unlike its competitor, PepsiCo has a large exposure to the food industry. This has helped the company generate strong performance over the past decade versus Coca-Cola. I personally prefer the taste of Coke over Pepsi, however, and many consumers seem to have similar taste buds. PepsiCo tends to make large acquisitions, which have worked so far. Sometimes it tends to overpay them, like the recent acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann. PepsiCo is cheaper than Coca-Cola, and both have similar near-term prospects.

  • By Dennis Slothower At 2011-10-28

    PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP) manufactures, markets, and sells various 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). PAF divisions. The company has raised distributions for 38 years in a row and yields 2.90%. The company is attractively valued at the moment at 16.60 times earnings.

Six Flags Entertainment Increases Sales but Misses Estimates on Earnings

Six Flags Entertainment (NYSE: SIX  ) reported earnings on Feb. 15. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), Six Flags Entertainment beat expectations on revenues and missed expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue grew and GAAP loss per share grew.

Margins improved across the board.

Revenue details
Six Flags Entertainment tallied revenue of $137.6 million. The four analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ hoped for a top line of $126.3 million on the same basis. GAAP reported sales were 13% higher than the prior-year quarter's $121.8 million.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

EPS details
EPS came in at -$1.85. The three earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted -$0.86 per share. GAAP EPS were -$1.85 for Q4 compared to -$1.70 per share for the prior-year quarter.


Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 42.2%, 470 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was -23.6%, 1,050 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was -74.2%, 370 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $62.9 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is -$1.36.

Next year'! s averag e estimate for revenue is $1.05 billion. The average EPS estimate is $0.58.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a two-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 29 members out of 38 rating the stock outperform, and nine members rating it underperform. Among 11 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), seven give Six Flags Entertainment a green thumbs-up, and four give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Six Flags Entertainment is outperform, with an average price target of $43.17.

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Preferential Treatment in an ETF -

For many investors, shopping for preferred stock shares feels like being a teenager in a used- car lot. The deals look like they're too good to be true -- and they often are. But some savvy investment pros are plying a new strategy to take advantage of the shares, while lowering the risk of getting stuck with a lemon.

Also See

  • To Beat the S&P 500, Try the Other S&P 500
  • 3 Retailers Betting Big on Shares
  • Time to Leave Your Money Market Fund

Preferred shares are something of a hybrid between stocks and bonds. The share prices don't fluctuate as much as the prices of common stock for the same company -- and they pay dividends that are often considerably more generous than those on common shares. In fact, such yields (recently averaging 7 percent, at a time when the broad bond market paid 3 percent) helped persuade Robert Wasilewski, a Glenelg, Md., financial planner, to divert about 5 percent of his clients' holdings to preferred shares from bonds.

But here's where the asterisks come in: Preferred shares are often complicated to figure out and expensive to trade -- which is why many planners are turning to exchange-traded funds that bundle preferreds rather than buying the shares outright. Investors poured more than $1.5 billion into the largest of these products, the $7.4 billion iShares S&P U.S. Preferred Stock, in 2011. While the ETF costs $48 in fees annually for every $10,000 invested (plus brokerage commissions), that's a lot cheaper than buying the shares themselves, which can run $200 for every $10,000 invested, says Harris Private Bank Chief Investment Officer Jack Ablin.

Of course, there's a reason why preferred yields are so lofty now. Nearly three-quarters! of issu ers are financial firms -- a sector under siege from the crisis in the euro zone, the lousy real estate market and much else. For Ablin, that's more incentive to spread out the risk by way of an ETF. "And if things go sideways," he says, "you've still got a nice dividend."



Markets in Europe are higher at 6.20 AM New York time.

The FTSE is up .6% to 6,303. Barclays is up .6% to 724. BP is up .4% to 554. BT is up .7% to 305. Reuters is up .2% to 460. Unilever is up 1.1% to 1515. Vodafone is up .7% to 141.2.

The DAXX is up .7% to 6,868. Daimler is up .6% to 60.98. DB is up 1.4% to 99.81. DT is up .2% to 12.41. Siemens is down .1% to 79.33.

The CAC 40 is up .8% to 5,598. Alcatel-Lucent is down .3% to 39.09. AXA is up 1% to 31.71. France Telecom is up .6% to 19.64. ST Micro is up 1% to 14.55.

Data from Reuters

Douglas A. McIntyre

Wearable augmented-reality glasses will be available next year

Whatever you do, just don�t call them �four-eyes.�

�Project Glass� is actually a rollout of augmented-reality glasses, the latest brain child from Google�s (NASDAQ:GOOG) special projects GoogleX division, a team led by Babak Parviz, Steve Lee and Sebastion Thrun.

But don�t get confused: these �glasses� aren�t your typical specs: they have a horizontal frame that rests on a user�s nose, with a wide strip along the sides that include a computer and clear display. Think: Geordi in Star Trek: Generations without the sun glass tinting.

The glasses have a wide variety of uses, as wearers can control music, get directions, take pictures, and essentially conduct business with them in virtually the same manner one can with cell phones, iPads, or most other hardware that contains a chip. Indeed, the glasses will use the Android software that runs Android tablets and cell phones.

According toThe New York Times, the glasses will contain a camera, and audio inputs and outputs. Information and images picked up by the camera will be streamed back to Google�s servers, and back again to the user in the form of reality information. For example, users may be able to obtain historical information and data as they view or visit those sites live.

Of course, to access the information streaming though the glasses device, one needs to glance up towards the display, making their use in, say, rush hour traffic, a little difficult.

And if you still think that people talking seemingly to themselves, but who are actually carrying on conversations through plugged-in but hidden cell phones, are annoying, consider someone who is walking around hiding from or dodging around computer generated images flashing in their own virtual rear-view mirror.

All of this is still a little bit in the future, as Google�s original time frame of a February release has been pushed back, and, according to Liz Gannes in allthingsd, ! will be delayed at least until next year.

The only remaining question may be the most important: can they make them look fashionable? Only time, and the those with fashion sense, will tell.

Marc Bastow-Assistant Editor, Investorplace


Bonds bigger risk than stocks right now, says Abby Joseph Cohen

Abby Joseph Cohen, the senior U.S. investment strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said investors are taking more risk by buying bonds at negative real yields than by putting money in equities as the economy grows.

“There are many investors who really are just so nervous about equities,” she said in a radio interview today on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. “The long-term question is: Should they be more nervous about bonds right now? That to me is riskier than the stock market.”

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) surged 29 percent through yesterday from its 2011 low in October as economic data beat economists' forecasts and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he will keep interest rates low through at least late 2014 to spur growth. Ten-year Treasuries are yielding about 2.17 percent, less than the 2.90 percent year-over-year increase in American consumer prices in February.

The U.S. may be emerging as a main engine for global growth as Europe slides into recession and China's economy decelerates, with optimism measured by the Bloomberg Comfort Index near a four-year high. Personal-consumption expenditures rose by the most in seven months in February, the Commerce Department said last week, while data today showed orders to U.S. factories climbed in February for the third time in four months.

“One of the things we are seeing in the economy is that corporate spending on business equipment continues at a good pace, and critically, they are also now hiring new workers,” Cohen said before the factory-orders report. Speaking during a separate interview on Bloomberg Television, she described U.S. economic growth as “good, solid, steady.”

Equities may extend gains this year because of cheap valuations, fueled by a shift in risk aversion among investors, Cohen said.

“We are talking the S&P at 1,500 to 1,600,” she replied when asked for a year-end forecast for the stock index. Th! e benchm ark measure of U.S. equities closed at 1,419.04 yesterday. David Kostin, the chief U.S. investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, has a year-end projection of 1,250, according to a weekly survey by Bloomberg News.

--Bloomberg News--

The Most Valuable Commodity is Not Oil or Gold

First GM needed a bailout.

Then AIG.

Then the banks.

Now, the country that sits atop the world's largest oil field says it needs one, too.

Saudi Arabia says it will lose $19 billion a year in oil revenue beginning in 2012. OPEC stands by the claim. Oil ministers fear that new environmental treaties that increase fuel efficiency for automobiles will cut into oil demand and their bottom line.

I know, I know. My heart bleeds, too.

And while increased fuel efficiency and electric cars -- and higher costs that could result from legislation like the cap-and-trade bill -- are all bad news for the Saudis, they represent a stunning opportunity for one company.

After all, it's not like that $19 billion is just going to disappear. That money will still be spent. It will just go somewhere else. And a lot of it is going to be used to buy a commodity that will, in many ways, replace oil.

More than 70% of oil is used for transportation. President Obama, like his predecessors, wants to end that reliance on foreign oil. New regulations proposed by the Obama administration mandate new vehicles average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. This increased fuel efficiency will conserve an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

One thing that will help America meet the new, higher fuel economy standard is more electric vehicles. Mr. Obama is pushing for a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Obama is also fueling demand for electric cars by offering a $7,500 credit to buyers of electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, which can go 100 miles before using a drop of gasoline.

The secret to these vehicles is their batteries, which use an ultra-light metal that can store more energy than was ever imagined. The metal is "energy dense," yet light enough to be used in cell phones, laptops or electric cars.

The metal is lithium. The price has jumped from $3 a kilogram in 2005 t! o $10 in 2009. Most of the price increase can be attributed to demand for lithium-ion batteries for portable electronics, which has driven demand for lithium up +25% a year.

Gadgets like the iPhone are expected to continue to drive such growth in the future. Electric cars will magnify the uptrend.

Obviously, a car battery is significantly more powerful than a cellphone battery, and it's also substantially larger. The power source in an electric car is 100 times larger than the power source in a laptop. As more electric cars roll out with lithium-ion batteries, prices for the metal should continue to increase.

Most of the world's lithium supply is found in the Lithium Triangle, a small area in South America where Chile, Bolivia and Argentina meet. These three countries are home to more than 75% of the world's lithium.

Incredibly, Bolivia doesn't produce any lithium, and it's not willing to sell the rights. The government has made it clear that it is "not going to hand over [lithium] at the whim of the companies." The Bolivian government itself plans to invest about $300 million in a plant that will go online in 2014.

Chile is the world's No. 1 lithium producer. All of Chile's production comes from plants on a salt flat called the Salar de Atacama, which is the second-largest lithium deposit on earth.

Three companies control 77% of lithium production. The rest is produced in China.

Company (Ticker)Recovery Cost
per kg
Market Share
Sociedad Quimica de Chile (NYSE: SQM)$1.10/kg30%
Rockwood Holdings

Sociedad Quimica de Chile (NYSE: SQM) produces about 30% of the world's lithium-carbonate, the grade of lithium that is used in batteries. Best of all, it does it at the lowest cost.

Brine is collected at Sociedad's salt flats and dried in solar ponds, then the lithium is extracted, along with other valuable minerals. The company's brine is especially desirable because of its high concentration of lithium. The site where the brine is dried is the hottest place on earth, and it stays hot all year. The combination of extreme heat and extremely high lithium concentration makes for lower costs and higher margins.
Low-cost producers always have an advantage when it comes to price. Sociedad said Wednesday it would cut lithium prices by -20%, which instantly sent share prices of its competitors lower. The company's strategy is a shrewd attempt to boost its market share while deterring new producers from entering the business.

SQM is not a pure play on lithium; it's a play on the best lithium producer.

Growth-oriented investors interested in profiting in the inevitable lithium boom should consider shares of Sociedad. 

Buyout offer boosts entire agriculture sector

Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE: BHP) made an unsolicited offer to acquire Potash Corp. (NYSE: POT) for $130 a share that the Potash board immediately and unanimously rejected as “grossly inadequate.” The offer from BHP valued Potash at approximately $38.6 billion. Not only did Potash reject the offer from BHP billiton, the company’s board adopted a “poison pill” rule that prohibits any single investor from acquiring a stake greater than 20% in Potash.

BHP’s offer is putting a good deal of air under other potash producers as well. Potash Corp. shares closed yesterday at $112.15 and opened today at $143.11. Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) shares are up around 9% in early trading, and shares in Intrepid Potash Inc. (NYSE: IPI) are up +8%. Other large miners with potash operations, like Rio Tinto plc (NYSE: RTP) and Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) are not getting the same size boost, up around +1%. The Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSE: MOO) is also up about +4%.

Aside from the BHP offer for Potash, the agriculture sector is in the midst of a sharp rise on commodity prices as well as equipment and fertilizer. The recent jump in wheat prices is only partially due to the export ban on wheat that Russia has imposed. Perhaps the biggest part of the rise is due to rising global demand for food.

Potash Corp. estimates that grain and oilseed consumption in 2020 will rise to more than 3 billion metric tons from an estimated 2.6 billion metric tons in 2010. Growth in fruits and vegetables consumption is also expected to rise by about +20% to more than 1.8 billion metric tons in 2020.

Fertilizer prices have been depressed since 2008, and are just coming out of the doldrums. BHP, which does have a large potash mining project on the drawing boards in Canada, does not want to wait the seven year! s it wil l take for the mine to reach production to cash in on the coming boom. That’s the attractive thing about Potash Corp. for BHP — it reduces the steep barriers to entry into potash mining.

The value of existing potash mines will only grow as the global demand for food rises. Mosaic and Intrepid could suddenly be worth a lot more than their current market caps simply because of their exposure to what are sure to be rising commodity food prices.

One final note: Russia, which produces more potash than any country other than Canada, is also moving to consolidate its potash mining industry by creating a global potash champion. Two Russian companies, Uralkali and Silvinit, are edging toward a fully merged company that could attract investment from Rio Tinto and Potash Corp.

Each side in this takeover try has fired its initial shot. BHP will probably have to raise its offer to stand a chance to get Potash to the table. The premium on the first offer was just 16%. BHP will have to weigh the price of waiting for its new potash mine against what it will cost to buy Potash. There are plenty of moves left in this game.

As of this writing, Paul Ausick did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

Your Guide to Profiting From Asia’s Explosive Growth – For access to the best-kept secrets about investing in China and the rest of Asia, plus the hottest stocks to buy and sell, sign up now for Robert Hsu’s FREE Investing Newsletter, Asia Insider. It’s sent right to your email inbox every week — absolutely FREE!

Methodology: Same-sex spouses lose big on taxes

CNNMoney asked tax preparer H&R Block to run a variety of scenarios comparing tax liabilities of same-sex and opposite-sex families for our story about gay marriage and taxes. Here's how H&R Block's Tax Institute did the math.

General assumptions:

--2011 tax year

--No itemized deductions; the standard deduction is used for all scenarios

--Wages are the only source of income

--The families in the first three scenarios do not live in community property states; the families in scenarios four and five live in a community property state

Scenario 1: The stay at home parent (no child tax credit)

In the first scenario, we compare a married filing jointly couple with two kids to a same-sex family (also with two kids). One spouse works and earns $100,000 in wages; the other spouse cares for the children. The same-sex earner, who has a base salary of $100,000, must include health insurance premiums of $5,000 in income for insurance paid by his employer to cover his partner.

The married filing jointly taxpayer has four exemptions (two for married filing jointly and two for the children). The same-sex taxpayer files as head of household and claims himself, the two children, and the same-sex spouse (as a qualifying relative), also for a total of four exemptions.

No other income or deductions are reported.

They tried to deduct what?!

The married filing jointly couple's net federal tax liability is $10,656, vs. $15,199 for the same-sex household, costing the same-sex couple $4,543.

Note: If the same-sex spouse did not have health insurance and the same-sex wage earner's income was also $100,000 (instead of $105,000), the married filing jointly couple's tax liability would be reduced and the cost for being unable to file a married filing jointly return would be $3,293 instead of $4,543.

The difference is due to a higher standard deduction for married filing jointly and how the tax rate brackets work. More of th! e head o f household taxable income is exposed to tax at the 25% rate than the married filing jointly taxable income.

Scenario 2: The stay at home parent (child tax credit included)

This scenario is the same as Scenario 1, but the child tax credit has been included. The filing status and earnings are the same, but while the child tax credit can be fully claimed by the married filing jointly couple, the same-sex couple is in the phaseout range for the child tax credit (for a head of household taxpayer, the CTC begins to phase out with AGI of $75,000, vs. AGI of $110,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers).

Thus, the married filing jointly family has a full $2,000 CTC because the phaseout has not occurred. The credit is reduced to only $500 for the same-sex couple because of the phase-out. Thus, the cost of being unable to file an married filing jointly return is increased to $6,043 ($4,543 + $1,500) when the CTC is introduced.

Scenario 3: Dual wage earners, no children

In this scenario, unrelated to the first two, both spouses work, each earns $100,000, and there are no children. The married couple has AGI of $200,000 and a net federal tax liability of $38,750. The two same-sex spouses also earn a combined AGI of $200,000 (there is no inclusion of health insurance in the income of one partner).

However, the net federal tax liability for the same-sex spouses is a combined $37,928 ($18,964 for each as a single taxpayer, doubled). This is $822 less than the married couple pays -- an example of the traditional "marriage penalty."

Scenario 4: Stay at home parent (no child tax credit) community property state

Scenario 4 is identical to Scenario 1, except that the taxpayers live in a community property state, such as California. In this regime, income earned by one partner is considered distributed equally to both partners, so the $100,000 earned by partner 1 is reported as $50,000 each.

In this scenario, the married filing jointly c! ouple pa ys $1,256 less in federal tax than the combined same-sex partners do. This is attributable to the health insurance premium of $5,000, which is additional income taxed at the 25% rate.

Scenario 5: Stay at home parent (child tax credit included), community property state

This scenario is the same as Scenario 4 (community property state), except the CTC is included. In this case, the net federal tax liability difference remains at $1,256 (the married filing jointly couple pays less because of the health insurance).

Unlike the introduction of the CTC in Scenario 2 (over Scenario 1), here the income-splitting between the same-sex partners eliminates the phaseout, with each partner earning $52,500, well below the phase-out of $75,000 for single taxpayer. 

A Winning Financial Plan for 'American Idol' Winner Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery's New Money: A Winning Financial Plan for the 'American Idol' Winner American Idol winner Scotty McCreery will have to be country strong to handle the temptation of his new wealth, a financial expert told DailyFinance. "Show business can certainly be here today, gone tomorrow," said Mitch Slater, senior vice president of investments at UBS Financial Services (UBS) in Westfield, N.J. "You just don't know how long that success is going to be. You have to make sure the money lasts long after the success is gone."

We asked Slater to outline a financial plan for McCreery that isn't the same old song. The teen received more than $250,000 in for taking the top spot on season 10 of Idol and in advances for the album he'll record. Plus he'll earn tens of thousands for granting Idol licensing rights, according to reports, on top of the change he's making from the 173,000-plus iTune downloads this week of his single I Love You This Big.

As a middle-class 17-year-old who's embarking on a high-risk profession, McCreery is a special case, Slater said. But no one is so special they can forget about security. Slater, whom we should point out has no association with McCreery, devised what he called a "four-bucket" strategy for the newest Idol.

Investing for Four Phases of His Future

Slater suggested McCreery should pursue a college degree at some point, so his first bucket should be a university-backed 529 college fund. He can put some money in, and leave it there for a year or two while he gets his music career under way.

"The money grows tax-free until he takes it out for education," Slater said. The adviser notes that this suggestion doesn't imply pessimism about McCreery's long-term singi! ng prosp ects (which improved when he signed with Mercury Nashville this week), just realism. "Here's my answer: Taylor Hicks and Lee DeWyze," the money maven said, referring to two Idol winners who weren't breakout hits. "They're not all big successes."

McCreery's second bucket should contain growth-focused but low-risk money markets, CDs and other cash equivalents for short-term needs. The interest is paltry, but "that's safety," said Slater, who handles the portfolio of social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk.

The third bucket should address his plans for 10 to 15 years in the future, when he might want a house down payment. A portfolio of 60% stocks (20% of that in international ventures) and 40% bonds is a solid way to go, Slater advised. The performer could invest in a traditional S&P 500 index fund, basically a composite of 80% of U.S. equities. "It's something that typically for every 10 years outperforms cash, with the caveat that in the last 10 years, nothing outperformed cash," Slater said. On the bond side, McCreery could further ensure his returns with Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). Their interest rate increases as the Consumer Price Index rises.

In his fourth bucket, Slater would have McCreery put higher-risk investments that can build wealth for retirement. Social media and natural gas plays come to mind -- "things that are truly part of the decade ahead," the adviser said.

Whatever the young star does with his money, he needs to drown out the cheers before handing it over. This is no audition. Once he invests, he'll pay penalties to undo any damage. McCreery turns 18 in October, meaning he'll have full control of his assets. Then he can decide for himself on a plan to which he can say, I Love You This Big.

"There is no rush to invest this money now," Slater said. "I have found that making decisions when you inherit money or suddenly become s! uccessfu l are best done over time. Everyone in the world will want to be his financial adviser. Sometimes the best advice is to wait."

Bleach, groceries and jewelry top the list of payout performers

The dividend diva catwalk continued last week, as another batch of big-name companies upped payouts to shareholders. Perhaps the most well-known of last week�s corporate dividend stars was consumer products maker Clorox (NYSE: CLX). The maker of bleach, barbecue sauce and briquettes, among numerous other products, boosted its quarterly cash dividend by 9% to 60 cents per share from 55 cents. The newly washed dividend will paid on Aug. 12 to shareholders of record as of July 27. The increase marks the 34th year that the company has upped its payout.

Supermarket chain Safeway (NYSE: SWY) stocks many of the products made by Clorox, and last week, the company stocked the shelves of shareholders� portfolios by increasing its quarter dividend by 21%. The new payout will be 14.5 cents per share �versus the current 12 cents. The new dividend is payable on July 14 to shareholders of record on June 23.

Luxury goods retailer Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) is famous for the contents of its little robin�s egg blue boxes, and last week, the company let shareholders unwrap a little box filled with a shiny new payout pendant. Tiffany raised its quarterly dividend by 16% to 29 cents per share from 25 cents. The jewelry maker said its gift would be granted on July 11 to shareholders of record on June 20. The new dividend represents the ninth dividend increase in the past nine years.

Of course, bleach, groceries and jewelry aren�t the only items generating big dividends. Here are nine more companies boosting dividend payouts last week.

ACE Ltd. (NYSE: ACE): The global insurance and reinsurance issuer took steps last week to ensure its shareholders were covered. The company upped its quarterly payout by 6.1% to 35 cents per share from 33 cents. The new dividend is payable July 21 to shareholders of record on June 30.

Analog Devices (NYSE: ADI): The semiconductor chip maker put more ! chips in shareholders pots, raising its quarterly dividend 14% to 25 cents per share from 22 cents. The increased ante will be paid on June 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 27. The increased payouts came along with the announcement of a 9% jump in Q1 revenue, and earnings per share that easily bested consensus estimates.

Corn Products International (NYSE: CPO): The maker of such healthy fare as high fructose corn syrup gave its shareholders a sugar high last week, spiking its dividend by just over 14%. The new quarterly payout of 16 cents per share from 14 cents will be made on July 25 to shareholders of record on June 30.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS): The beverage maker put a bit more pep in shareholders� cups, declaring a new quarterly dividend of 32 cents per share. The new payout puts 28% more fizz over the previous pour. The increased dividend is payable on July 8 to shareholders of record on June 20.

Keycorp (NYSE: KEY): The bank-based financial services firm serviced shareholders� pocketbooks last week, upping its quarterly payout to 3 cents per share. The new dividend is payable June 15 to shareholders of record on May 31.

Scripps Network Interactive (NYSE: SNI): The owner of TV channels the Food Network and HGTV cooked up an improved payout of 33%, raising its quarterly dividend to 10 cents per share from 7.5 cents. The new payout will be broadcast on June 10 to shareholders of record May 31.

Western Union (NYSE: WU): The company wired a telegram to shareholders announcing a 14% increase in its quarterly dividend. The new payout of 8 cents per share versus the current 7 cents will be paid on June 30 to shareholders of record on June 17.

WR Berkley Corporation (NYSE: WRB): The insurance holding company decided not to hold on to its cash, as it increased its quarterly payout by 14%. The new dividend of 8 cents per share will be paid o! n July 1 to shareholders of record on June 14.

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL): The electricity and natural gas company powered up its quarterly dividend to shareholders, energizing its payout to 26 cents per share from 25.25 cents. The new dividend is payable July 20 to shareholders of record on June 23.

At the time of publication, Jim Woods held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

To Awaken a Sleeping Giant: After Missing the Mobile-Computing Boom, What's Next For Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)?

And why not: Intel's processors served as the brains of 90% of the world's personal computers. And the PC market was booming.

It's been a much different story over the last 10 years, however.

The once-scorching PC market has seen its growth slow, and Intel's stock has gone from heavyweight leader to disappointing laggard: From 2001 to this year, while the Nasdaq Composite Index has gained 34%, Intel shares have actually skidded 15%.

As bad as that performance has been, Intel's stock-price woes are actually just a symptom of a deeply troubling malady - not the malady itself. Intel remains tops when it comes to desktop PCs or laptop computers, but that's not where the market is now headed. Mobile-computing - you might refer to it as smartphones, iPads and "tablets" - is where the growth is.

And - with apologies to singer Little Richard - when it comes to the mobile-computing market, Intel keeps-a-knockin', but can't seem to get through the door.

"Intel has [completely] missed the transition to a post-PC era," Auguste Richard, an analyst for Piper Jaffray Cos. (NYSE: PJC), wrote in a recent research note.

And this "transition" is turning into an outright seismic shift.

Missing the Move to Mobile Computing

In the first quarter of this year, PC sales actually decreased on a year-over-year basis: Research firm Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT) reported a 1.1% decline, while IDC Research Inc. pegged that decline at 3.2%.

What's more, consulting firm Deloitte LLP has projected that 2011 will be the first year that the combined sales of tablets and smartphones will exceed those of laptops, netbooks and desktops.

That doesn't bode well for Intel.

With just 14% of the mobile processor market - compared to the 80% share it currently has for the central-processing-unit (CPU) chips that power t! he world 's PCs - Intel could eventually lose its crown as the world's dominant maker of CPUs.

"Intel has no market share in the next wave of computing," Richard, the Piper Jaffray analyst, wrote in his recent report. "Smartphones and tablets are where the innovation and excitement are being created."
With its core market of PC processors beginning to weaken, Intel needs to find a way to win a bigger slice of the growing mobile market - or onetime leader Intel will be doomed to remain a laggard.

This is one tough assignment. Makers of tablets and smartphones have shunned Intel's mobile offering, the Atom, in favor of chips using technology licensed from ARM Holdings PLC (Nasdaq ADR: ARMH), and for one simple reason: ARM chips consume less power - the most important attribute for a mobile chip because it extends battery life.

In fact, ARM is quickly becoming to the mobile-device market that Intel had been to the PC market: Right now about 75% of mobile devices use ARM chips.

According to Piper Jaffray's Richard, Intel's historic emphasis on more powerful chips at the expense of efficiency, as well as "inertia" due to efforts to support its legacy PC market, have hampered its ability to satisfy the needs of mobile-device makers.

And though ARM is the market-share leader, today's mobile market is much more complicated than its PC-only predecessor of a decade or so ago - which is why Intel now finds itself fighting a multi-headed beast.

Mobile Computing and the Multi-Headed Beast

What ARM has done is to pursue more of an "open" arrangement with its market-leading technology; it licenses its technology to other companies, which can then custom-design chips for their own specific purposes.

That's changed the competitive landscape for Intel, and in a big way. For years, Intel only had to joust with a single market rival, namely the much-smaller Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD).

But n ow Intel finds itself having to brawl with some of the biggest names in the global-high-tech sector, including Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Samsung Electronics LTD (PINK: SSNLF), NVIDIA Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).

And it's not just the players who have multiplied. Intel must also find ways to become relevant, despite having to develop competitive responses to a now-bewildering array of business models.

Some of ARM's customers only design the chips. That's what Apple does with the A4 and A5 processors used in the iPhone and iPad. Others, such as Qualcomm, just manufacture them.

That dynamic ecosystem, with companies designing chips to suit an individual product, contrasts sharply with the longstanding - and largely monopolistic - Intel-centric approach in which Intel forced buyers to choose the chips they wanted to use from its sent product line.

"The reason why ARM is going to kill the microprocessor is not because Intel will not eventually produce an Atom that might be as good as an ARM, but because Intel has the wrong business model," Dr. Hermann Hauser, a co-founder of ARM, told The Wall Street Journal. "People in the mobile phone architecture do not buy microprocessors... They license them. So it's not Intel vs. ARM, it is Intel vs. every single semiconductor company in the world."

To add insult to injury, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced earlier this year that the next version of Windows will support ARM. Such a move would threaten Intel's traditional PC chip business - and would perhaps represent a formal end to the "Wintel" (Microsoft Windows and Intel CPU) duopoly that served both companies so well for so many years.

(There's even some market scuttlebutt that Microsoft - now free [as of May 12] of the decade-old U.S. Justice Department consent decree - should consider buying ARM outright, a move that would place it in the center of the mobile-device market.)
No Retreat, No SurrenderIntel isn't waving the white flag just yet. Indeed, the company has launched a counterattack strategy, though it will be some time before investors will know whether this complex plan will bear fruit.

Intel has invested billions of dollars in several technical innovations, including its 22-nanometer fabrication process (the current standard is 32 nanometer - the smaller number means the components can fit closer together, increasing efficiency) and especially in its breakthrough "Tri-Gate" method of building transistors in three dimensions, instead of on a flat plane.

These new technologies and production methods will yield several important benefits - especially when combined. The biggest of all will be a 50% reduction in the power consumption of its chips.

That should help win over some mobile-device makers.

"Marching down the nanometer curve will definitely help Intel to penetrate the market for mobile devices," said Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless communications at researcher IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS). "That, however, is only one part of the equation, as power efficiency in these types of devices also requires system-level optimization of the processors."

Most ARM chips incorporate the "optimization" to which Sideco refers.

Still, Intel's new technology does give it an edge and time to exploit it; such rival chipmakers as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg. Co. Ltd. (NYSE ADR: TSM) are believed to be at least a year behind.

"When it comes to the mobile market, they have their work cut out for them," Dan Hutcheson, a CEO of VLSI Research Inc., told USA Today. But "this gives you the transistors to build the next great system."

If You Can't Beat �Em...

As a hedging move, Intel is itself becoming a maker of ARM chips; it bought the expertise with two acquisitions: Wind Riv! er in 20 09 and Infineon's wireless solution division in January.

While Intel doesn't make as much money fabricating ARM chips as it does by selling its own designs, it's better than losing the business altogether.

And earlier this month, Richard, the Piper Jaffray analyst, reported that Intel is actively seeking Apple's A4 and A5 foundry business.

"It makes strategic sense for both companies," Richard wrote in a report. "The combination of Apple's growing demand and market share in smart phones and tablets gives Intel a position in these markets and drives the logic volume Intel needs to stay ahead in manufacturing."

If Intel succeeds, it would gain a prominent chunk of the mobile segment as a fabricator.

Telling Intel's Fortune

But the question remains: Can all these moves create enough real growth to rejuvenate Intel's share price?

Because of its past successes, Intel pulls in $12 billion in revenue each quarter. Even without the rising competitive pressures, this fact alone makes meaningful growth very hard to achieve.

Intel stock had been down about 6% year-to-date before the pop from its first-quarter earnings put it up about 10%.

Just last week Intel's top management reflected internal concern over its stock by increasing its dividend 16%, from 18.1 cents per share to 21 cents.

It's the second dividend increase in six months, and follows $5.5 billion in stock buybacks in the past two quarters - two moves that are clearly the sign of a company trying to placate increasingly impatient shareholders.

"There's no doubt this is an action to shore up the stock. This makes the stock much more attractive," Gleacher & Co. analyst Doug Freedman told Reuters.

Some analysts see the dividend hike as a temporary fix.

"For me, the key concerns are a lack of success in mobile and potential loss of share in their core PC business," Roth Capit! al Partn ers LLC analyst Arnab Chanda told Reuters. "Increasing the dividend doesn't really change any of those things."

And none of this happens in a vacuum. Even as Intel looks to push its way into the mobile-computing market, its core business may find itself under assault - and from one of its mobile-computing rivals, no less.

ARM has apparently set its sights on the market for servers, the powerful computers used to run networks. Intel has been publicly dismissive of ARM strategy - although some analysts say the fact that Intel took the time to make such derisive comments is a sign that company leaders are worried that ARM might succeed.

[Editor's Note: "Leaders to Laggards" is a four-part Money Morning special report that makes an honest assessment of the financial outlooks for Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT).

The series consisted of an overview story, followed by an in-depth analysis of each company. The Intel analysis ran first, followed by Cisco and Microsoft. We intend to continue this as an occasional series going forward, adding updates on Intel, Cisco and Microsoft, and perhaps also looking at such other firms as Nokia Corp. (NYSE ADR:NOK). As the series concluded, star hedge fund manager David Einhorn called CEO Steve Ballmer "the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock" - and called for his head.

If you have comments on the series, or suggestions for additional "leaders to laggards" companies we should write about, please feel free to drop us a line]

(Merck, NHPR, FISV, OTEX, GMCR) Stock Report by

Merck is committed to building on its strong legacy in the field of viral hepatitis by continuing to discover, develop and deliver vaccines and medicines to help prevent and treat viral hepatitis. In hepatitis C, company researchers developed the first approved therapy for chronic HCV in 1991 and the first combination therapy in 1998. Extensive research efforts are underway to develop oral therapies that bring innovation to viral hepatitis treatment.

VICTRELIS� (boceprevir) Unanimously Recommended for Approval by FDA Advisory Committee for Treatment of Chronic HCV Genotype 1 Infection

Merck (NYSE:MRK) (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) announced that the Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously that the available data support approval of Merck’s investigational medicine VICTRELIS� (boceprevir) for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection in combination with current standard therapy. VICTRELIS is one of a new class of medicines known as HCV protease inhibitors being evaluated by the FDA for the treatment of chronic HCV genotype 1 infection in adult patients with compensated liver disease who are previously untreated or who have failed previous therapy.

The committee�s recommendation will be considered by the FDA in its review of the New Drug Application for VICTRELIS. The FDA is not bound by the committee�s guidance, but takes its advice into consideration when reviewing investigational medicines. The company anticipates FDA action on VICTRELIS by mid-May.

�The positive recommendation brings us one step closer to bringing VICTRELIS to men and women who need it, and reinforces our ongoing commitment to developing innovative therapies to treat chronic hepatitis C,” said Peter S. Kim, Ph.D., president, Merck Resear ch Laboratories. “We’re pleased with the panel’s decision and look forward to working with the FDA as it continues to evaluate the application for VICTRELIS.”

The FDA granted priority review status for VICTRELIS, a designation for investigational medicines that address unmet medical needs. Additionally, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has accepted the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for VICTRELIS for accelerated assessment.

The panel reviewed the results from the Phase III clinical study program for VICTRELIS; the clinical trials HCV SPRINT-2 and HCV RESPOND-2 included approximately 1,500 patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection, the most common form of the virus in the United States and most difficult to treat. Data that were discussed involved 1,097 treatment-na�ve patients (HCV SPRINT-2) and 403 patients who failed previous therapy (HCV RESPOND-2). HCV SPRINT-2 included a separate analysis of results in African-American patients, a patient population that typically does not respond well to standard therapy. Results from HCV SPRINT-2 and HCV RESPOND-2 were published in the March 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For more information, visit

National Health Partners, Inc. (NHPR)

There are three primary reasons health care costs so much:
The impact of inflation
The amount of price increases above inflation related to the higher cost of health care labor and technologies
The increased amount of demand for and consumption of health care services.

National Health Partners, Inc. is a national healthcare savings organization that provides discount healthcare membership programs to uninsured and underinsured people through a national healthcare savings network called “CARExpress.” CARExpress is one of the largest networks of hospitals, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other healthcare providers in the country and is comprised of over 1,000,000 medical ! professi onals that belong to such PPOs as CareMark and Aetna.

Prescription drug spending increased about three times as much as overall health care spending, while hospital care spending increased at a rate slower than overall spending. (This may have been offset by pharmaceutical interventions that helped keep people out of the hospital for conditions that previously would have required hospital care.) Physician care spending kept even pace with the increase of overall health care spending.

The company’s primary target customer group is the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance of any kind. The company’s secondary target customer group includes the millions of Americans who lack complete health insurance coverage. The company is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
National Health Partners, Inc. recently announced that it has signed a new agreement with a major marketing company that will significantly enhance the growth of its CARExpress membership base.

According to the Company, this deal, in combination with the previous partnership with Xpress Healthcare, will enable the company to build its membership base exponentially, initially generating in excess of an additional 2,000 new members per month. The new campaign is set to launch within the next few weeks and will provide a material positive impact on the company’s 2nd quarter sales.

National Health Partners anticipate that this new marketing agreement will provide a major impact on their overall sales not only for the 2nd quarter, but more importantly for the year. They look forward to building on the profits that they anticipate generating in 2011 that will be driven by substantial growth in sales of their CARExpress health discount programs. The combination of their substantial growth with their low price-to-equity ratio should reflect itself in the price of their stock over the coming months.

For more information about National Health Partners, Inc visit its website www.nationalhealthp! artners. com

Fiserv, Inc. (Nasdaq:FISV) the leading global provider of financial services technology solutions, reported financial results for the first quarter of 2011. GAAP revenue in the first quarter of 2011 was $1.05 billion compared with $1.01 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Adjusted revenue increased 3 percent to $982 million in the first quarter compared with $954 million in 2010. GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2011 was $0.77, which includes severance expenses of $0.08 per share, compared with $0.80 in 2010. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations in the first quarter of 2011 increased 7 percent to $1.02 compared with $0.95 in 2010.

Fiserv, Inc. and its subsidiaries provide various financial services technology solutions. Its solutions include electronic commerce systems and services, such as transaction processing, electronic bill payment and presentment, business process outsourcing, document distribution services, and software and systems solutions.

Open Text Corp. (Nasdaq:OTEX) announced unaudited financial results for its third quarter ended March 31, 2011. (1) Total revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 was $263.0 million, up 23.6% compared to $212.8 million for the same period in the prior fiscal year. License revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 was $67.8 million, up 37.0% compared to $49.5 million for the same period in the prior fiscal year. Adjusted net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 was $52.5 million or $0.90 per share on a diluted basis, up 30.3% compared to $40.3 million or $0.70 per share on a diluted basis for the same period in the prior fiscal year. Net income in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (”US GAAP”) was $35.8 million or $0.61 per share on a diluted basis, compared to $13.1 million or $0.23 per share on a diluted basis for the same period in the prior fiscal year. (2). Operating cash flow in! the thi rd quarter of fiscal 2011 was $82.3 million, compared to $78.0 million for the same period in the prior fiscal year. The cash and cash equivalents balance as of March 31, 2011 was $237.7 million. Accounts receivable as of March 31, 2011 totaled $150.2 million, compared to $132.1 million as of June 30, 2010 and Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) was 49 days in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, compared to 52 days in the third quarter of fiscal 2010.

Open Text Corporation develops, markets, sells, licenses, and supports enterprise content management (ECM) solutions primarily in North America and Europe. The company was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in Waterloo, Canada.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (Nasdaq:GMCR) a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers, announced that the Company plans to announce financial results for its fiscal 2011 second quarter in a results to be issued following the close of the financial markets on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. In conjunction with, and at the same time as this announcement, GMCR will publish management’s prepared remarks on its quarterly results in a Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and also posted under the events link in the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at The Company will host a conference call with investors and analysts on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. ET. As a result of publishing prepared remarks in advance of the live call, the conference call will include only brief remarks by management followed by a question and answer session.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. operates in the specialty coffee industry in the United States and internationally. It sells approximately 200 whole bean and ground coffee selections, cocoa, teas, and coffees.

Welcome to Another Digital Disruption

This video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which Chief Technology Officer Jeremy Phillips discusses topics across the investing world.

In 2012, digital film viewings will grow to surpass physical viewings, which are comprised of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. This incredible stat is overshadowed by another, more amazing data point: Only about 10% of the revenue generated on a per-view basis is transferred from the physical medium to the digital one. This shift represents both monstrous risks and outlandish opportunities for investors in the space.

Digital video distribution has gathered a lot of investor attention, but the truth is that it's playing second fiddle to an even larger revolution in technology. To better prepare investors for this new revolution, The Motley Fool has just released a free report on mobile named "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution" that details a hidden component play inside mobile phones that also is a market leader in the exploding Chinese market. Inside the report, we not only describe why the mobile revolution will dwarf any other technology revolution seen before it, but we also name the company at the forefront of the trend. Hundreds of thousands have requested access to previous reports, and you can access this new report today by clicking here -- it's free.