Ultimate Market Recap: Martha Stewart Moves Early, Pacific Sun Surges Late

Wednesday Morning’s Top Stories

The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the euro zone’s bailout fund, has announced in a press release that it will  introduce a short-term funding program based on three, six and 12-month bills; the first auction may take place by year’s end and it will be available to the EFSF Market Group members, encompassing 47 institutions.

Klaus Regling, the EFSF’s chief executive noted in the release that the new program isn’t a replacement but a tool to “add flexibility to” the the EFSF’s long-term bond program.

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According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), worldwide airlines could see extreme losses in 2012 if the eur0-zone debt crisis doesn’t get on a recovery course. The association cut its 2012 forecast for industry profits to $3.5 billion but there’s a potential for a $8.3 billion loss if Europe’s debt problem initiate a new banking crisis as large as the one from 2008.

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) will slash around 4,500 jobs in upcoming quarters as an effort to cut costs from declining revenue and “unprecedented” market conditions. In the fourth quarter, the company will take a pretax charge of approximately $400 million from reductions such as severance costs.

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Citi’s CEO Vikram Pandit said at a New York investor conference on Tuesday, “Financial services faces an extremely challenging operating environment with an unprecedented combination of market uncertainty, sustained economic weakness in the developed economies and the most substantial regulatory changes we have seen in our lifetimes. These trends will likely significantly affect the competitive landscape in the coming years.”

MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a company under Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A) umbrella, will add to its wind-powered energy facilities by purchasing the $2 billion First Solar Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FSLR) Topaz Solar Farm power plant in California. According to a statement, the plant has enough capacity to generate energy for about 160,000 California residences. Financial terms were unavailable.

Investing Insights: Rumors Continue to Swirl About an Apple Television.

Wednesday Morning Hot Stocks

Shares of Citigroup (NYSE:C) fell nearly 2% before the opening bell.  Late Tuesday, the bank announced it was cutting 4,500 jobs to reduce expenses. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) are also trading lower.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is edging lower in early trading.  The company experienced a legal hurdle in using the BBX name for its new generation of smart phones.  The BBX name has already been trademarked by Basis International Ltd.

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Monsanto (NYSE:MON) is bouncing .50% higher after raising fiscal fiscal first quarter guidance to a range of 15 cents to 20 cents per share. Previously, the company expected 10 cents to 15 cents per share.

Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (NYSE:MSO) are surging 28% after J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) said it was buying a 16.6% stake in the company.  “Beginning in February 2013, customers will be able to visit distinct Martha Stewart retail stores inside the majority of J.C. Penney department stores,” the companies said in a joint press release.

Investing Insights: Rumors Continue to Swirl About an Apple Television.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NYSE:SMG) received a .25% boost despite warning against a weaker first quarter.  Due to poor weather conditions, sales are expected to suffer. The company expects its loss to expand to $1.20 to $1.25 per share, compared to a loss of 99 cents last year.

Imax Corp. (NASDAQ:IMAX) is heading lower after signing agreements to place its digital systems in four Chinese theaters by the end of 2014.  Two of the systems will be installed in the cities of Tianjin and Guangzhou, while locations for the other two were not announced.

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Wednesday’s Trending Stocks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is trading at 12,114 and the S&P 500 Index is trading at 1,250 today. Here are the hottest stocks on Wall Street driving the conversation today:

  1. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO): Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. are trading higher 32% today. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. creates original how-to content and related products for homemakers and other consumers. The Company markets its brand name across a broad range of media and retail outlets. Martha Stewart provides information on a variety of subjects including home, cooking and entertaining, gardening, crafts, holidays, household maintenance, and weddings.
  2. The Talbots, Inc. (NYSE:TLB): Shares of The Talbots, Inc. are trading higher 62% today. The Talbots, Inc. is an international specialty retailer and direct marketer of women’s apparel, accessories, and shoes. The Company operates stores in the United States and Canada. Talbots also retails products over the Internet and through its catalog.
  3. Mitcham Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIND): Shares of Mitcham Industries, Inc. are trading higher 19% today. Mitcham Industries, Inc. leases and sells geophysical and other equipment used primarily by seismic data acquisition contractors. The Company’s equipment is used to perform seismic data surveys both on land and in transition zones. Mitcham leases its equipment on a short-term basis to seismic contractors who need additional capacity.
  4. Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRA): Shares of Vera Bradley, Inc. are trading lower 2.5% today. Vera Bradley, Inc. designs, produces and retails fashion accessories for women. The Company markets handbags, accessories and travel and leisure items through its chain of retail stores and independent retailers.
  5. The Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. (NYSE:MW): Shares of The Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. are trading higher 14% today. The Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. retails men’s attire. The Company sells suits, sportswear, furnishings, and accessories. The Men’s Wearhouse also operates a manufacturing facility of men’s suits and sports coats in Canada.
  6. Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI): Shares of Darden Restaurants, Inc. are trading higher 1% today. Darden Restaurants, Inc. operates casual dining restaurants in North America. The Company owns and operates seafood and Italian restaurants.
  7. First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG): Shares of First Niagara Financial Group Inc. are trading lower 1% today. First Niagara Financial Group, Inc. is a bank holding company. The Banks provide an array of deposit products and loans, as well as insurance, leasing, investment advisory services, insurance agency services, and trust services.
  8. JOY GLOBAL INC (NYSE:JOY): Shares of JOY GLOBAL INC are trading lower 1% today.
  9. Banco Santander-Chile (NYSE:SAN): Shares of Banco Santander-Chile are trading higher 5% today. Banco Santander Chile attracts deposits and offers retail and commercial banking services in Chile. The Bank offers personal and corporate loans, credit cards, mutual funds, lease financing, securities brokerage services, and business consulting.
  10. Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. (NYSE:PNY): Shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. are trading lower 1.5% today. Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. is an energy and services company that primarily transports, distributes, and sells natural gas. The Company serves residential, commercial, and industrial customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Piedmont also, through subsidiaries, markets natural gas to customers in Georgia, and distributes propane in various states.

Market Recap

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow +0.38%, S&P+0.20%, Nasdaq -0.o1%, Oil -0.75%, Gold +0.80%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) remained flat at $100.52 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbed to $1,745.70 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.58% to settle at $32.56.

Hot Feature: Saudi Arabia Boosts Output as EU Considers Ban on Iranian Oil 

Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) S&P. Trading was thin today as markets struggled to recover after Standard & Poor’s decision to put 15 euro nations on watch for a possible credit downgrade on Monday. News was sparse today, and though European leaders and policymakers seem to be moving toward an agreement on how to effectively shore up finances, enforce strict budgetary guidelines, and boost banks’ liquidity, investors are understandably skeptical, given that leaders have agreed upon numerous “comprehensive” packages this year that quickly fizzled. Germany’s downbeat assessment of prospects for an agreement didn’t help matters. Investors will likely remain cautious until the summit in Brussels at the end of the week. 

2) Banks. Financials rallied despite Standard & Poor’s placing some of the largest rated banking groups in the euro zone on creditwatch with negative implications, adding that it could also cut credit ratings for several U.S. regional banks, including US Bancorp (NYSE:USB), PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC), and BB&T (NYSE:BBT). Among the major U.S. banks, Citigroup (NYSE:C) was the worst performer, just tacking on 0.27% after announcing that it would cut almost 4,500 jobs worldwide — almost 2 percent of its workforce. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) all climbed 2% to 5%. 

3) Energy. The energy sector was the biggest drag on the market today as oil dipped below $100 a barrel mid-day after a bearish weekly oil inventory report. Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) were the sector’s worst performers. Still, many other oil stocks joined a late rally, with Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) clawing their way to modest gains after an otherwise relatively flat day of trading.

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After Hours Radar Stocks

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are edging .17% higher in late trading.  The tech giant will be opening a new Apple store in Grand Central Station this Friday.  It will be the fifth Apple store in New York.  Competitors include: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) closed more 1.39% higher on Wednesday.  The company’s CEO John Chambers, urged shareholders to support a proposal that would cut taxes on repatriated profits, in order to create more jobs in the US.  The company may also pay higher dividends.

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Shares of THQ Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI) are getting slammed 20% after the closing bell.  The company reported that net earnings for its third fiscal quarter will be 25% below previous estimates.  The cause was weaker-than-expected sales of its uBraw game tablet.  “Despite uDraw’s strong success on the Wii in fiscal 2011 and market research indicating strong demand for uDraw on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (NYSE:SNE), initial sales of our uDraw tablet and software on these high-definition platforms have been weaker than expected,” CEO Brian Farrell explained.

After announcing store closures, shares of Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (NASDAQ:PSUN) are surging more than 40% in extended trading. The company said it will close 175 to 200 underperforming stores in the next 14 months, due to a lease renegotiation with landlords.  Competitors include: American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE:AEO) and Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE:ARO).

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