Monthly Archives: November 2010

Cyber Monday Retail Success

Online retailers saw significant sales success on the Monday after this year’s Thanksgiving. “Cyber Monday,” so named to both reflect and encourage the post-Thanksgiving boom in online shopping, may generate up to $1 billion in sales this year, according to a Jeffries analyst. This will reflect an increase from last year’s Cyber Monday sales of $887 million, the analystics firm comScore reported. The firm plans to publicize its Cyber Monday date on Wednesday.

As the public increased its purchases, retailers’ stocks rose in tandem. Amazon shares reached an all-time peak of 2.6%, while the stock of its smaller rival Overstock.com rose 8.1%. Ebay Inc’s PayPal unit saw a 21% rise in its total payment volume as compared to last year’s Cyber Monday.

Total U.S. online sales in 2009 were $130 billion.

Black Friday Online Sales on the Rise

The day after Thanksgiving this year saw online sales increase by 15.9% over Black Friday 2009, according to Coremetrics, a web analytics technology provider that is part of IBM. E-retailer Buy.com reported a sales jump of 45%. In addition, ChannelAdvisor reported that its retailer client’s same-store sales increased by almost 35%, seeing particularly good results in the Amazon marketplace.

Coremetrics reported that the average order value on Black Friday was $190.80, up from last year’s $170.19. Consumers also increased the size of their orders: the average number of items increased by 37% this year.

Shoppers also came more prepared this year. By 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving night, consumer had logged more than 15.4 million page views in one hour on ShopLocal, the vendor that distributes retailers’ online circulars, indicating that they were preparing their shopping lists in advance of Friday’s sales.
“Et-retailers have become more efficient and consumers have become efficient,” explained Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing at the e-commerce technology provider GSI Commerce. “You didn’t have to wake up on Friday and then decide what you were going to buy. Sites had it listed and people were waiting to buy it. Consumers knew exactly what they wanted.”

Black Friday Countdown Continues

Higher income consumers have expressed greater optimism about their financial future but their lower income counterparts are still struggling. It is the goal of America’s retailers to attract both sectors to their holiday sale season, which begins on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, this week.

“It’s critical to get off to a good start for Black Friday because it’s hard to make up sales if you fall behind your plan overall,” asserted Barclays Capital analyst Bob Drbul.

This is particularly true this year, when, after the recent years’ economic downturn, sales have begun improving slightly.

“For the past three years, [shopping] trips have been declining,” explained James Russo, vice president of market and consumer information at The Nielson Co. monitor.  But retails stocks have gone up significantly since August, in light of an increase in sales at retail establishments. The goal for stores now is to build on this momentum by creating enhancements to attract large numbers of holiday shoppers. As many as 138 million shoppers could visit stores around the United States this “Black Friday” weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

Sears and Wal-Mart even plan to be open on Thanksgiving Day, in hopes of catching the early bird – or at least, the early shopper.

Holiday Hopes Give Rise to Higher Stocks

As Thanksgiving approaches towards week’s end, stocks have risen in anticipation of Black Friday. The gains in sales during the first half of November have given hope that the day after Thanksgiving, which is the traditional start to the retail industry’s biggest sales period, will launch a flourishing holiday selling season.

MasterCard Advisors’ Spending Pulse, which tracks national retail and service sales, showed that total apparel sales rose 9.7% in the first half of November. Online sales rose 11.4% during the same period, while electronics and appliance sales rose 0.7%

In terms of retail stocks, shares of Macy’s Inc. rose 2.7%, Sears Holdings Corp rose 2.6%, Best Buy Co. rose 2.8%, and shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also rose slightly.

Speculative Stocks

You get an email to your inbox. The letter says: ”Just invest two thousand dollars today and watch your investment grow 100-fold!”. Obviously, that line is meant to tempt you to read further. The letter will continue with terms such as “the next Apple” and “ripe for a buyout”. Sounds enticing, right? What should you do?

If you don’t do intensive research in to these stocks, or don’t really have money to lose on them, the answer is simple: don’t buy the stock. If you buy a speculative stock, you’re basically throwing the money away and hoping that maybe someday you will be rewarded. Football fans would call it a Hail Mary.

If you feel that you could afford to part with a certain amount of money, start doing research. Go to the company’s website and look at financial reports. Ask questions and look up the ticker symbol. Look for any clue that there might be something fishy going on.

Once you’ve ascertained that you can afford to throw away the money and you don’t think it’s a scam, go ahead and invest. Do not put a lot of money in to it. Under no circumstances should your speculative investments comprise more than twenty percent of your portfolio and in my opinion even that is pushing it.

Do you want some ideas for speculative stocks to check out? Here are a few:

1.       Amarok Resources (OTCBB:AMOK).

2.       Gold American Mining Corp (OTCBB:SILA).

3.       Dyadic International (OTC:DYAI).

4.       Amerilithium Corporation (OTCBB:AMEL).

Good Investing!

The Promise of Black Friday

As Thanksgiving 2010 approaches, investors have their eye on Black Friday. This is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season which aims to identify a level of retail volume that will indicate a market upswing.

This year’s Black Friday, so-called because stores usually make sufficient sales on that day to get their accounts “into the black,” will be marked by a range of sale opportunities, as retail institutions seek to attract significant portions of the country’s bargain hunters.  Major retailers are hoping that this holiday season will show a major increase over last year’s sales. Target, for example, which is offering a 5% discount to users of its store credit card, is predicting a 2.8% gain over the same quarter in 2009, while Macy’s is predicting a holiday sale increase of 3 to 4%.

The National Retail Federation has more modest expectations. Its annual Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey indicates a predicted holiday shopping growth of 1%, with an average shopping bill of $688.87 per person.

Cash Flow and Increasing Dividends

There are a lot of different ways to pick which stocks you want to invest in. Extensive research is necessary if you want to pick small stocks with explosive potential. However, if you’re not interested in spending a lot of time doing research and/or don’t want to take high-risks, here’s a list of stocks for you.

These companies are all medium or large-cap companies with strong free cash flow and steadily rising dividends. Strong free cash flow allows these companies to do a lot of different things, such as increasing their dividends. All of these companies have increased their annual dividends in each of the last seven years.

  1. Courier Corp. (Ticker symbol: CRRC) yields 5.3%.
  2. Lockheed Martin (Ticker symbol: LMT) yields 4.3%.
  3. Kimberly-Clark (Ticker symbol: KMB) yields 4%.
  4. Watsco (Ticker symbol: WSO) yields 3.7%.
  5. Johnson & Johnson (Ticker symbol: JNJ) yields 3.4%.
  6. Abbott Laboratories (Ticker symbol: ABT) yields 3.3%.
  7. Automatic Data Processing (Ticker symbol: ADP) yields 3.2%.
  8. National Semiconductor (Ticker symbol: NSM) yields 3.1%.
  9. Procter & Gamble (Ticker symbol: PG) yields 3.1%.
  10. Campbell Soup Company (Ticker symbol: CPB) yields 3%.

Good Investing!

Can You Say “Dominate” in Chinese?

The Chinese economy is becoming a bigger and bigger player in the global market. As of today, four out of the ten biggest companies in the world are Chinese!

China now has the largest car market in the world, which makes the largest Chinese car-maker, Bitauto (NASDAQ: BITA) a very compelling buy. This would also make investing in Chinese oil companies a pretty good idea. Check out the China energy ETF (ticker:CHIE)  as a possible investment idea.

China’s internet brand Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) is also growing rapidly. In fact, it has grown 150% in the last year and an astounding 1,257% over the last five years. Yes, you read correctly. 1,257%! China has three times as many internet users as it had in 2005 and the numbers keep on growing.

Any investor should invest part of their portfolio in foreign stocks and markets, and China is definitely where I want MY money to be.

Karstadt Finds Unexpected Growth

Karstadt Berlin / Dusseldorf – Thomas Fox the CEO of Karstadt predicts a great future for his  department store chain in Germany. “The best times of these department stores in Germany still lie ahead,” lectured Fox on Wednesday even before the industry gathered at the German trade conference in Berlin, “Germany is a country store.”

To prove that he is onto something Thomas Fox known as a restructuring showed for the first time after the end of the Karstadt bankruptcy in October concrete figures on how the department store change is faring and the numbers do indeed astound.  The company has earned € 93 million over the past fiscal year 2009/2010 (September 30) before taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). None of the branches write more red numbers, and there are no stores that are under threat of closing. “We have made the rotation,” said Fox. Yet the profits must stillpay the costs. Karstadt in the previous year had recorded a loss of 120 million €.

Originally, the Karstadt-rescue team based their time frame on a profit of € 35 million – now it was nearly three times as much.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify!

Investment DiversificationOne of the cardinal rules of investing is diversification.  You never want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Ensuring your portfolio is diversified will make sure you will not lose half of your money in one day.

If you invest no more than 4% of your money in a single investment, and set a stop/loss at 25% for every one, you are guaranteed to never lose more than 1% of your portfolio on said investment. Doing so also means that you have to pick at least twenty different things to invest in. While we’re talking about the stock market, that is not a problem at all.  You can easily find a lot of good companies to invest in.

In order to balance your portfolio even more, I recommend allotting between ten and fifteen percent of your portfolio in commodities like gold and oil. Gold and oil tend to go up when the dollar and the market are down. Gold has been breaking records and many analysts predict that it might soon double, triple and maybe even quadruple its current value. Some good names to invest in there are Newmont Mining (NEM:NYSE), Barrick Gold (ABX:NYSE) and Goldcorp (GG:NYSE). The big oil companies, like Exxon-Mobil (XOM:NYSE), Chevron (CVX:NYSE) and ConocoPhillips (COP:NYSE) also have dividends that are nice and steady and good for any portfolio.