Big Picture

My Doctor Continues To Warn Me

It really is no laughing matter, as the weighty issue of the long-term health of a potential Presidential contender must be taken seriously. But Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey would not be who he is without a sense of humor and a very big personality.

And this was on display in his visit this week to David Lettermanâ??s program, where he delivered that â??healthiest guyâ? line after munching on a donut. (See Video Here, courtesy of CBS).

Christie also had some choice words for former White House physician Dr. Connie Mariano, who publicly voiced concerns about his weight and health. He said her comments were without benefit of a complete physical and medical history, â??Until that time, she should just shut up. She must be a genius and should be Surgeon General.â? But Christie did acknowledge his ongoing struggle with his weight and despite being â??very healthyâ? said, â??my doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon.â? (nbcphiladelphia.com)

The stock market was doing its own nibbling last week, in this case on a new 52-week high and another â??highest close for the S&P since 2007.â? For the most part, however, the markets saw a bit more volatility than usually seen so far for 2013 and several up and down sessions.

For the week, the S&P was +0.3%, the Dow off a very modest fraction, and the Nasdaq Comp leading the charge at +0.5%. Apple (AAPL) helped out considerably on the Nasdaqâ??s performance, putting in a +4.7% increase for the week and having its best close at $474.98 since its earnings report.

Although some European concerns regarding Spain and Italy reared up unexpectedly early in the week, earnings reports, economic news out of China, better than expected U.S. trade data, the Apple/Einhorn story, and some ramped up LBO and M&A action encouraged a rebound from 2013â??s weakest equity session on Monday.

Dellâ??s bid to go private and the Dept. of Justice action against S&P were major storylines, as was the Northeast storm â??Nemo,â? which dumped anywhere from 18 inches to three feet of snow on the region. Fortunately, widespread power outages did not occur, but the Northeast remained frozen in inactivity over the weekend and snow removal and area transportation issues will remain a story for days.

So letâ??s see what they were saying this week.

â??The blizzard known as Nemo shattered records in Maine and lingered on Saturday, adding to nearly 30-inch snowfall totals.â? â??Portland Maine Daily Sun, citing the previous record snowfall from a single storm back in 1979 at 27.1 inches. Maine had a 19 car pile-up in which fortunately there were no major injuries. But snowfall counts were actually higher elsewhere in the New England region, with 38-40 inches of snow in Milford and Hamden, CT the deepest we have seen reported.

â??We welcome Greenlightâ??s views and the views of all of our shareholders.â? â??As reported by Forbes, Apple publicly commented on the call by Greenlight Capitalâ??s David Einhorn to â??return more cash to shareholders,â? perhaps through preferred shares. AAPL stock responded favorably on one of the few recent catalysts, moving up almost $18 from Wednesday to Fridayâ??s close.

â??Closer ties with Dell could poison Microsoftâ??s relationship with HP, the largest PC maker, and other manufacturers that buy Windows and other software.â? â??Firstpost article, commenting on the $24.4 billion buyout which is the largest such deal â??since November 2007 when Alltel sold for $25 billion to TPG Capital and a Goldman Sachs subsidiary.â? Dell must still solicit competing offers for 45 days and many major shareholders, including Southeastern Asset Mgt., are far from thrilled with the deal. Firstpost added:

“Dellâ??s decision to go private is a reflection of the tough times facing the personal computer industry as more technology spending flows toward smartphones and tablet computers. PC sales fell 3.5 per cent last year, according to the research group Gartner, the first annual decline in more than a decade. Whatâ??s more, more tablet computers are expected to be sold this year than laptops.

â??As the saying goes, I have big heels to fill.â? â??New Secretary of State John Kerry in greeting his colleagues at the State Department, adding, â??Hereâ??s the big question before the country and the world: After the last eight years, can a man actually run the State Department?â? Kerry follows the eight years of Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice into the office. (Washington Post)

â??I am proud to be in LinkedInâ??s Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles.â? â??CNBCâ??s commentator Herb Greenberg in an on-air declaration. LinkedIn sent out â??noticesâ? this week â??congratulatingâ? those who were in the â??Top 1%,â? â??Top 5%,â? etc. of â??viewed profiles.â? But the big LinkedIn news was another major earnings beat, which sent shares soaring (Forbes). The company recently announced crossing the 200 million member hurdle and â??is one of the few recent Internet IPOs to perform strongly after its public listing.â?

â??Obama with a Gun is His Dukakis in the Tank Moment.â? â??Yahoo on the photo released of the President â??shooting skeetâ? at Camp David, an activity the White House says he â??frequently enjoys competitively with friends.â? The photo brought out all sorts of comments, ranging from conspiracy theories on whether it was photoshopped to claims of blatant media manipulation in the midst of the gun debate. A guest on Foxâ??s Oâ??Reilly show, over-the-top TV personality/humorist Greg Gutfeld had a particularly tasteless remark, saying, â??Skeet may just be code for Fox News viewers.â? (mediaite.com)

Forbes asked, â??U.S. To Sue S&P But Not Moodyâ??s? Not Goldman? What Gives?â? regarding the Justice Department planned action against Standard & Poorâ??s on mortgage credit ratings issues going back to the housing crisis. Others were asking the same thing, wondering if this was a politically motivated move coming off S&Pâ??s downgrade of the U.S. back in 2011. The LA Times commented:

“It was not known why Standard & Poorâ??s was singled out in the federal lawsuit. The government and S&P have tangled before. The rating agency in August 2011 issued a historic downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness and threatened to lower it even further.

The action marks the first federal crackdown against a major credit rater, and it signals an untested legal tack after limited success in holding the nationâ??s banks accountable for the part they played in the crisis. The government selected Los Angeles as the venue to file the lawsuit in part because it was one of the regions hardest hit when the bottom fell out of the housing market.

S&P obviously disagreed with the core complaint of â??intent to defraud,â? with their attorneys saying, â??The ratings were believed by the people who issued them. The suit is entirely without legal or factual merit.â? (NBC/WSJ) McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP) stock was down -27% on the week and although not named in the suit, Moodyâ??s (MCO) was off in sympathy, -22%.

â??GMCR Gets Roasted.â? â??WallStCheatSheet.com, on Green Mountainâ??s earnings report, which actually was a beat, but the outlook led to a fast drop and a semi-rebound, down about -4% on the week, â??Green Mountain delivered a profit and beat Wall Streetâ??s expectations, AND beat the revenue expectation. However, the coffee companyâ??s forecasts for next quarter were not in line with analyst consensus and shares are down -8.93% Thursday.â?

â??I am ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our countryâ??s scientists.â? â??Iranâ??s always outrageous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on â??volunteeringâ? to be his countryâ??s first person into space. (NY Daily News) Senator John McCain ridiculed the statement on Twitter, drawing some fire himself, by tweeting, â??So Ahmadinejad wants to be first Iranian in space â?? wasnâ??t he just there last week?â? (referring to the launch of a monkey).

â??BlackBerry maker BlackBerry got more votes of confidence today.â? â??Barronâ??s on Thursday, citing upgrades by Jefferies and Wells Fargo (and Bernstein previously) and some positive feedback on the newly-launched product line and also the new â??BlackBerry Enterprise Server.â?

The prior week, then-named â??Research in Motionâ? CEO Thorsten Heins had the double announcement of the official name change to Blackberry (BBRY) and the unveiling of the new BlackBerry 10 line-up at an event in New York. (BusinessStandard.com) â??We have transformed ourselves inside and out, and we have defined our vision. It is one brand; it is one promise.â? BBRY officially started trading on Monday 2/4/13 and was up about +20% from its Monday open to Fridayâ??s close at $16.49.

Arthur Herman in the New York Post had quite the list regarding attempts against well-known news outlets and government agencies by â??Chinese hackersâ?:

“Over the last 30 months, Chinese hackers have targeted Bloomberg, Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, US Chamber of Commerce, State Department (including Sec. of State Clinton), Pentagon, Dept. of Defense, Army Space and Strategic Defense, Lockheed Martin, Energy and Commerce, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

â??Ed, in his own way was our Moses. Just with a little less hair. He led us out of darkness and he gave us hope.â? â??Mayor Bloomberg in his eulogy for former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. (politicker.com)

We will close it out there for the week, with one final note. USA Today publicized the results of an online survey of 5,481 singles ages 21 and older who are not in a relationship, conducted by Market Tools Inc. for Match.com. One finding getting a lot of attention: â??When judging a potential date, both men and women rate teeth at the top, followed by grammar.â?

On last nightâ??s â??Saturday Night Live Weekend Update,â? host Seth Meyers remarked about that particular finding, â??Great news for whomever has both.â?

Good Trading!
David Wismer

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About the Author

David Wismer covers market news and provides editorial content for Forbes and Stateofthemarkets.com. His professional career has taken him to Madison Avenue, Wall Street, Silicon Alley, Hollywood, Washington, and all across the NYC sports and media scene. David specializes in digging into what is being said by newsmakers, the media, and the “hot news,” and aims to connect the dots to help investors make sense of the markets.