4 Consumer Stock Stories For Savvy Investment Shopping

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT): Closing price $71.25

Target shares were downgraded from Overweight to Neutral Thursday by analyst Christopher Horvers at J.P. Morgan, who expects significant pressure on the firm’s earnings moving forward, and an increasing need for impressive results from Canada. Horvers also lowered his second-quarter and full-year earnings estimates by one cent to 97 cents and $4.35, respectively, while reducing his 2014 earnings forecast to $5.50 from $5.58. He pointed to the pressure lower-end consumers are experiencing as the 2-percent United States payroll tax largely washes out the average 2.9-percent year-over-year increase in wages so far this year.

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Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM): Closing price $127.98

Toyota is to go before a jury for the first time in a lawsuit regarding an allegation that unexpected acceleration of one of its cars was the cause of a death. Opening statements could begin as soon as Thursday in California state court in Los Angeles, at which some 85 personal-injury and wrongful-death acceleration cases have been consolidated. Observers think that this suit might be a bellwether for similar cases, as it was filed by the husband and son of a woman who died in a crash. The widower Yasuharu Uno and his son Jeffrey claim that Toyota is liable because it did not install a brake override system in the 2006 Camry that Noriko Uno was driving when it sped through oncoming traffic until it collided with a tree. Such a system causes a vehicle’s engine to idle when the gas and brake pedals are pushed at the same time.

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Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX): Closing price $63.95

Time Warner has been searching out a chief executive for months to run Time Inc., and it has postponed the planned spinoff of the publishing unit until early 2014. The spinoff should have been finished by year-end. In July, the firm tapped Joe Ripp to be the chief executive of the publishing business, and he is set to officially take the position on September 1. Speaking during a conference call to discuss quarterly results, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said that the additional time will place Ripp in the “best position to succeed.”

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General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM): Closing price $36.02

Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said Thursday at an auto industry conference, that GM will keep the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon names when it launches redesigned midsize pickup trucks in 2014. The new trucks will be quite different from the current models, with the Colorado meant for people who spend time outdoors, and the Canyon targeted towards professional buyers. Ammann explained that the old truck names have brand equity with customers.

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