J.C. Penney CEO Faces Bruising Criticism and 4 Morning Hot Stocks Making Waves

PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP): Current Price $72.32

PepsiCo Inc’s (NYSE:PEP) Mountain Dew will appear as a breakfast drink on your dining table next month. The new drink, dubbed Kickstart, is a combination of 5% juice, vitamins B and C, an extra dash of caffeine and artificial sweeteners and will be available in the usual 16-ounce cans. The drink was inspired by a Taco Bell breakfast drink launched last year that combined Mountain Dew with orange juice and seeks to satisfy Mountain Dew fans looking for something different from coffee, tea or juice in the way of a morning drink. Though marketing for the new drink shows young men on skateboards and in some ways is similar to ad campaigns for energy drinks, Kickstart contains none of the latter’s controversial and esoteric ingredients.

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J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP): Current Price $19.24

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) CEO Ron Johnson is again in the news for all the wrong reasons. A bruising article in the New York Post quotes company sources to say that Johnson (“Ritz crackpot”) is not exactly burning the midnight oil in his efforts to turn around the beleaguered retailer – in fact, he is only to be found at company headquarters about four days a week. The company jet flies Johnson in from his Palo Alto, Calif. home every week where he is put up at the Ritz Carlton luxury hotel in Dallas. This is in sharp contrast to his predecessors who moved to the city and worked long hours at the office. Worse, employees are now reporting late for work and leaving earlier than usual, even though there is more work to be shared around after the extensive job cuts at the retailer. Johnson is also criticised for his distant and insular management style which demoralises workers.

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Barclays (NYSE:BCS): Current Price $18.76

According to a report in the Financial Times, Barclays (NYSE:BCS) is to undergo a massive cost-cutting exercise to reduce about £2 billion from its annual £20 billion cost through the implementation of a strategic overhaul to be unveiled tomorrow. At the heart of the program is retrenchment across investment banking in Asia and the shuttering may be partial to retail and commercial banking in some European territories. Anthony Jenkins, the new chief executive appointed in August, has already scrutinised 75 business lines of the bank and pledged to pull out of operations that are at odds with its value system, such as trading of food based commodities and tax avoidance through creative structuring. He has also pledged to relinquish his 2012 bonus in the wake of adverse publicity regarding the bank’s various alleged transgressions such as mis-selling of interest rate swaps, LIBOR manipulation and illegal payments in the Middle East.

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Brookfield Asset Management Inc (NYSE:BAM): Current Price $38.86

Brookfield Asset Management Inc (NYSE:BAM) announces a $414 million deal to acquire from Babcock & Brown Residential a portfolio of 19 apartment communities comprising 4,892 units located across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The portfolio is said to boast an average occupancy of 92% and is concentrated across the Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham submarkets that are witnessing robust economic and population growth. “The acquisition of this attractive portfolio adds to Brookfield’s significant multi-family platform and positions us for continued growth in this property sector,” said David Arthur, managing partner at Brookfield Asset Management.

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Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F): Current Price $13.13

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:Freveals a no strings attached, new dealership incentive program that will match dollar for dollar, up to a limit of $750,000, any amount invested by dealersin the renovation of their dealerships. Ford’s dealers, numbering approximately 3100, are all eligible and the incentive is not tied to any volume or customer satisfaction milestones. Said Ken Czubay, Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service for Ford: “It is our affirmative action to support our dealers in a great low-interest, growing market.”

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