Thu10302014

Business & Real Estate

Cloudy outlook calls for caution

Last week’s return to standard time and the beginning of November brought a hopeful upswing to Wall Street.

The Dow opened up 150 points Nov. 1, largely due to employment data reporting 158,000 new jobs created in October and applications for employment benefits falling 9,000. In addition, the Consumer Confidence Index rose to its highest level since February 2008.

Despite the gains, the market outlook remains cloudy after destructive megastorm Sandy, Tuesday’s election and the September-quarter earnings reporting period.

Two Town Crier “50” stocks in the news:

• Symantec Corp. (SYMC; $18.66) announced that it completed its acquisition of VeriSign Japan KK. The purchase positions Symantec to assist Japanese organizations as they incorporate identity and security and adopt new computing models. Together, the two firms hope to drive growth across Japan with the ability to leverage Symantec business practices in other parts of the world.

The Mountain View-based Symantec is the global leader in security, backup and availability solutions for computers.

Symantec boasts a market cap of $12.2 billion, with shares up 11.1 percent year-to-date.

Analysts’ recent history reports a range of recommendations for Symantec stock, from Market Perform to Buy.

• Apple Inc. (AAPL; $585.05) announced that per-share earnings jumped 23 percent to $8.67 in the quarter ending in September but fell short of consensus. Helped by the release of the iPhone 5 in late September, Apple reported that it sold 58 percent more smartphones, 26 percent more iPads and 1 percent more Macs than in the same quarter last year.

Apple margins on the iPad mini, launched Nov. 2, are significantly below the corporate average. Margin pressures could point to rising production costs as the devices become more complicated to manufacture and keep up with competition.

Despite Apple’s recent management shakeup, analysts continue to recommend a Buy for today and long term.

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