Business & Real Estate

Prepare for more stock volatility


With the stock market down more than 450 points as we enter the final week before the presidential election, it’s interesting to recall that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was dropping quickly when John McCain was the Republican nominee four years ago.

When President Barack Obama was inaugurated Jan. 20, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrials registered slightly below 8,000. The market had experienced a one-day drop of 778 points the previous September, followed by three more big drops in October.

Today, concerns over disappointing earnings and economic worries in Europe could lead to the same type of volatility.

The “fiscal cliff” looms, with spending cuts and tax increases of up to $600 billion awaiting lawmakers in January. Many corporations have postponed their investment spending until Congress resolves the situation.

Investors should not expect to avoid disappointment in this economic environment, but they could tip the odds in their favor by purchasing stocks with sales momentum, improving profit margins and reasonable valuations.

The latest news on two Town Crier “50” stocks:

• Apple (AAPL; $604:00) announced its quarterly earnings Thursday, missing the forecast and falling short of estimates. For the fiscal quarter, Apple reported earnings of $11.75 a share on $52 billion in revenue. Analysts expected earnings of $15.43 a share on $55 billion.

Apple priced its much-anticipated iPad mini at $329, well above the $199 of similar-sized tablets offered by Amazon and Google. While some analysts worry about the price differential, Apple has previously succeeded at selling products at a premium compared with rival offerings. However, only 14 million iPad minis have been sold, below forecasts.

Analysts still consider Apple stock both a short- and long-term buy.

• Facebook Inc. (FB; $21.94) experienced its largest one-day gain last week, with the stock closing at $23.23, up 19 percent for the day but still a long way from its initial offering of $38. Revenue for the third quarter totaled $1.26 billion, a $325 million increase, compared with $954 million in the third quarter of 2011. As of Sept. 30, the company’s cash and marketable securities totaled $10.5 billion.

The improvement in Facebook stock’s performance is likely attributable to burgeoning sales in the mobile advertising market. Approximately $150 million resulted from Facebook ads appearing on mobile devices.

Employees and investors Monday became eligible to sell nearly 234 million shares of stock they’ve had to hold because of trading restrictions. Another 700 million shares will be unlocked Nov. 14. The increase in stock sales could cause the price to drop again. After the sell-off, the stock price should increase.

Analysts aren’t in unison when it comes to Facebook stock – a few recommend selling, but most suggest holding on, expecting the price to rise.

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