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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Stocks tumble on weak earnings

The stock market correction finally arrived Friday when the Dow Industrials closed down 318 points. That is important because it has been more than two years since the last stock market correction. Investors fleeing from stocks are wondering whether this will be the end of the correction.

The stock market fall comes over weak corporate earnings of blue chip stocks like IBM Corp., Starbucks Corp, and McDonald’s Corp. At some point, companies will have to produce revenue growth to translate into real earnings before the market reaction turns positive.

Earnings-reporting season is in full swing and the near-term action deserves a closer look. Fourth-quarter results hold importance because they often come with guidance for the year ahead. The December reporting quarter is crucial because it tells you what the future holds for a company.

Last week’s drop also stems from worries about China’s manufacturing growth and China’s economic growth. Between China and earnings season, analysts have been looking for that long overdue correction and this is kindling the fire.

Expectations for the March quarter are modest, pointing to just 4 percent year-to-year growth. The market’s reaction to quarterly results is a great gauge for guidance.

Traditional Town Crier “50” titans such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ; $28.88), IBM Corp. (IBM; $178.87), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT; $36.27) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL; $36.68) have struggled with earnings in the latest quarter and should be drawing attention.

Some companies have grown so big that their acquisitions barely move the needle, while others face threats from nimble startups that offer cloud-based software. These new cloud-based software companies undercut the bulky, lucrative contracts that once assured the giants steady income and growth.

Without improved signs of profit growth, your favorite stock may have trouble making headway, so keep a close eye on the market and the next hundred companies that report earnings for the December quarter.

One Town Crier “50” stock is reasonably priced but reported a loss for the December quarter:

• IBM is a large and diversified tech company whose stock is widely held by institutions and everyday investors. You could spend hours breaking down the business of IBM, but it is still a company that generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue through the many services it offers. However, earnings determine stock prices.

After the market closed Jan. 21, the company reported its quarterly revenue, recording its steepest drop in more than four years. The results immediately lowered the Dow Jones industrial average because of the vast holdings throughout the market.

Fourth-quarter results for the firm revealed earnings of $6.13 per share on $27.8 billion in sales, short of the $28.25 billion analysts had expected. Cloud and software services continued to help IBM’s hardware business, but systems and technology revenue plunged 26 percent over a year to $4.3 billion.

IBM’s fourth-quarter revenue dropped 5.5 percent below expectations, and the hardware group’s revenue fell 27 percent. The stock price has tumbled, with some analysts dropping their target price to $175.

Reports circulated that IBM was trying to divest its x86 server segment, with both Dell and Lenovo reported to express interest. Last week Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group agreed to buy IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion. The sale will allow IBM to focus on more profitable software and services.

Essentially, IBM is unable to grow, and it is using its buyback program to drive earnings growth. With the business in decline, there are times when the buyback is not enough. Free cash flow was down 16.7 percent year-over-year to $15 billion.

An analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase recommended that investors take profits from the stock, because there are limited catalysts that could boost investor sentiment.

Clyde Noel is a Los Altos Hills resident and longtime investor in stocks. A strong supporter of IBM, he has shares in his retirement program.

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