Wed08202014

Business & Real Estate

Investors approve of latest Fed action

Stocks have rebounded on encouraging economic news, bringing indexes to new highs and the Dow Jones industrial and transportation averages within 2 percent of their May highs. Along with improving labor statistics and the Federal Reserve’s decision to continue buying bonds and keep interest rates low, the news confirms a bullish trend for the market.

Job growth alone won’t support increased stock prices, but in the long run, it helps boost U.S. corporate profits. Moves above all-time Dow industrial average highs of 15,409.39 will confirm a bullish primary trend.

At an economic conference last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke explained how the central bank views the economy, emphasizing that the economy must accommodate monetary policy for the “foreseeable future.”

With bond yields rising slightly and bond-fund investors suffering losses, those in the bullish camp argue that money will continue to rotate from bonds to stocks.

Stock market volatility has accelerated in July, and further weakness is possible in the near term, despite the encouraging primary trend. However, secondary corrections are necessary evils in a bull market.

The bottom line for this week reveals that the recent market volatility has troubled many investors, because stocks have done nothing unexpected when it comes to a pullback relative to historical corrections and positive moves by the Fed.

Bernanke said the Fed might begin to curb its massive bond-buying program later this year and halt the practice completely by the middle of 2014 if the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent.

Two Town Crier “50” stocks made headlines last week.

• Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO; $25.93) has reported higher sales in 14 consecutive quarters. In the past 12 months, the company’s per-share profits rose 13 percent, while its competitors’ decreased 9 percent. The world’s largest supplier of networking equipment, Cisco’s results closely correlate to the performance of the global economy.

Cisco in June introduced a new router capable of handling four times more network traffic than previous incarnations, an upgrade that could generate $2 billion over the next two years.

Even as Cisco expands into higher-growth markets such as cloud computing, it still sticks to what it does best.

Many brokerage houses rate Cisco stock as a focus or long-term buy. Investors should consider purchasing shares – stock has proven resilient during the market’s recent volatility, offers growth potential and yields an annual dividend of 2.8 percent.

• Oracle Corp. (ORCL; $31.98) stock has traded on the Nasdaq exchange since 1986, but effective July 15, the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company will retain its ticker symbol as it transfers to the NYSE.

Oracle reported soft April-quarter results, with shares slumping and the new dividend hike failing to impress investors. Earnings-per-share increased 5 percent to 87 cents, matching the consensus, while sales held flat at $10.95 billion. New software licenses and subscriptions for cloud software rose 4 percent, offsetting a decline in hardware products and support.

For the July quarter, Oracle expects sales of new licenses and subscriptions to be flat or to increase to 8 percent. The company doubled its quarterly dividend to 12 cents, payable Aug. 2. The yield is 0.8 percent per share.

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