Microsoft OKs New Severance Pay for Executives and Other 2 Hot Stocks to Watch

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT): Current price $33.70

It seems as if Microsoft’s board is attempting to head off potential executive turmoil, as it gave its nod to new severance payouts for executives who lose their jobs. Earlier this week, the board OK’d stock payouts for cases in which it needs to persuade executives to stay on. The double action indicates the way directors are considering the possibility of unease in the Microsoft workforce while CEO Steve Ballmer makes his exit and as the company conducts a large reorganization that already has caused a few job losses.

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Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C): Current price $49.00

Lawmakers including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday demanded that eight domestic banks surrender information regarding arrangements they might have made with colleges in order to encourage students to use their products. The group wrote in a letter to Citigroup, Wells Fargo & Co., and six other banks that “These lucrative deals are great for banks and great for colleges, but students can get hurt when they are steered into financial products that carry high fees.” In the letters, the lawmakers cite a 2012 report by consumer organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group that says more than 9 million students are at risk of being “nickeled and dimed” by fees originating from bank-college partnerships.

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Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL): Current price $33.84

Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz said that the database-software maker will boost its operating margins by transitioning to services delivered by means of the Web from software installed on computers. During a meeting with analysts in San Francisco on Thursday, Catz predicted that Oracle will be more profitable as tech spending becomes directed toward cloud-computing tools. Consensus is that Oracle will reach an operating margin at 48 percent for the fiscal year through May versus 39 percent year over year.

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