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Business & Real Estate

The market is bucking like a bronco

With the stock market down again last week as January came to a close, it set the tone for the Year of the Horse, which could be a contrary and unpredictable year. It will certainly be a volatile and bucking year for the horse.

Since World War II, when the market is down in January, the average usually remains flat in the following 11 months. This trend runs counter to many analysts’ forecasts this year, which predict that the market will rise by the end of 2014.

While the decline is a correction in an ongoing bull market, the sharpness of the drop raises questions for the bulls: How much further will the market drop? and What should I do now?

Holding some ready cash on the sidelines is not a bad idea. If you need extra cash in the future to weather a storm, raise it now, but don’t stop looking for new buying opportunities.

Two Town Crier “50” stocks recently announced their quarterly results.

• Yahoo Inc. (YHOO; $34.80) reported last week that it beat expected earnings for the latest quarter. CEO Marissa Mayer said the company has finally regained its stride, but the revenue is not where she wants it.

Yahoo reported $348 million in profit, or 33 cents per share for the quarter ending Dec 31, up 28 percent from a year earlier. But revenue fell from $1.35 billion to $1.26 billion, dropping 6 percent in the fourth quarter, the same rate of decline as the rest of 2013, primarily because sales decreased in the advertisement segment.

Yahoo’s earnings are on the rise under Mayer’s leadership because of cost-cutting measures and investments in two Asian Internet companies. The income from the Asian investments accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s earnings for the quarter.

Mayer explained that the hiring of executive Henrique de Castro had not produced an improvement in Yahoo’s ad business, which contributed to his departure. The company has no plans to replace him. Mayer also introduced new ad programs and said she would become more involved in the company’s ad business.

Most analysts downgraded Yahoo stock from a buy to a hold, with a single analyst upgrading it to a buy. The median target price is $40, with a high of $52.

• Symantec Corp. (SYMC; $20.74) Jan. 29 announced a 5 percent drop in quarterly revenue, attributed to the worldwide decline in personal computer sales. After the bell, the shares lost 3 percent and fell to $23.72 in extended trading and continued to fall Thursday.

The fiscal fourth quarter recorded sales of $1.62 billion, though analysts had projected $1.64 billion. Symantec faces increasing competition from FireEye Inc. and Palo Alto Networks. The market for security software and equipment should increase 9.1 percent to $71.7 billion, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

The Mountain View-based company reported that its net income in the fiscal third quarter rose 31 percent to $283 billion, or 40 cents per share, from $216 billion, or 31 cents per share previously.

President and CEO Steve Bennett cut approximately 1,000 jobs last year and reorganized the sales division to focus on new business and eliminate old products.

He said the company plans to revamp its product portfolio with a new product delivery that would extend into the cloud infrastructure platform and global security network.

Analysts’ upgrade and downgrade history has been scant, with numerous reporting Symantec as a market-perform stock. The median target price is $26, with a high of $33.

Clyde Noel is a Los Altos Hills resident and longtime investor in stocks.

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