Tue09022014

Business & Real Estate

Rising market tide lifts all boats

Investors have enjoyed an incredible market run, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average rocketing to new highs on a broad rally that resembles a rising tide that lifts all boats. As of Friday, bullish investors were happy, largely thanks to the Federal Reserve’s unexpected decision to continue its stimulus program.

The outlook isn’t totally rosy, though, as Republicans play hardball with threats of an imminent government shutdown. With decisions on the Affordable Care Act, the budget and the debt ceiling looming, the market is likely to react with uncertainty in coming weeks.

Given the record rallies, however, investors should maintain a nearly full posture, looking for stocks with established value.

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

• Oracle Corp. (ORCL; $34.09) reported first-quarter earnings of $2.19 billion, beating expectations and topping the previous year’s first-quarter earnings by 8 percent.

Revenues of $8.37 billion resulted in a profit of 47 cents per share. The results exceeded the expectations of numerous analysts, who had anticipated 44 cents per share.

The Redwood City-based company faces reduced global demand for information technology and must battle smaller companies that provide software online. Oracle’s software licenses and cloud subscriptions rose 5 percent, but its hardware sales fell 13 percent year-over-year.

Oracle’s days as a tech behemoth may be in the past, as cloud computing continues to take a large bite out of the old-style firms.

Oracle’s recent upgrade and downgrade history is favorable, with numerous analysts rating its stock an outperform or a buy. The median target price is $36, with a high of $43.

• Electronic Arts Inc. (EA; $26.44) last week appointed Andrew Wilson its new CEO. He has been with Electronic Arts since 2000 and served as executive vice president of EA Sports since 2011.

The move comes six months after former CEO John Riccitiello resigned after six years as CEO and COO. In his resignation letter, he cited “the shortcomings in our financial results this year.”

In a letter posted on the company’s website, Wilson said he envisions Electronic Arts as the “world’s greatest games company” but added that “we have plenty of work ahead to ensure our collective success.”

Wilson will receive an annual base salary of $800,000, with a target bonus of $1.2 million, or 150 percent of his salary.

Electronic Arts’ upgrade and downgrade history has taken a positive turn, with analysts’ lately deeming its stock a buy or accumulate. The mean target price is $28, with a high of $31.

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