The Dow Jones industrial averages and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index have been knocking on the door of historical highs, despite the intimidation of an upcoming sequester that could take down many a portfolio. Investors may be underestimating the potential market impact, which could begin Friday.
If you were looking for a pullback – with the market up 10 percent since Dec. 1 and 6 percent on the year – this would be the main cause, combined with the Federal Reserve announcement that stimulus measures may end earlier than expected.
According to a survey by Northern Trust Corp., two-thirds of high-net American households with $5 million in investable assets believe that the country is worse off now than it was in 2007. They base their reasoning on the rising deficit, ballooning national debt and stubborn unemployment.
However, fewer than half the investors with an average of $500,000 indicated with a high level of certainty that they will achieve their financial goals.
The market has now gone 15 months without a 10 percent correction and more than three months without a 5 percent correction – both are unusually long winning streaks that can be associated with a higher-than-normal risk of a stock correction.
Town Crier 50 stocks in the headlines:
• Intel Corp. (INTC; $20.48) continues to diversify beyond personal computers and plans to launch an online TV service later this year. Intel will introduce a set-top box service the company has been testing while it negotiates with programmers for deals. The company expects to offer live and on-demand content in smaller bundles than cable operators can offer. The box will be equipped with a camera and facial-recognition technology and feature custom programming and video conferencing.
The challenge Intel faces, however, is dealing with the shift from PCs to mobile devices. For Intel to improve, it needs to find a strategic vision that will enable it to move beyond the PC dominance.
Thursday Intel dropped 2.2 percent to $20.27, but the Santa Clara company still offers a 4.30 percent yield on its dividend. From less than 10 cents a share, Intel’s dividend is now 90 cents per share.
• Google Inc. (GOOG; $799.12) shares have been escalating after the December-quarter profit growth of 12 percent to $10.65, topping the consensus estimate. Revenue soared 36 percent to $14.42 billion.
Google’s upward trajectory has remained steady with growth in Internet-search revenue and ads on mobile devices. Google dominates the search business and reports indicate that the company accounts for 67 percent of online inquiries in the U.S.
The company has also been successful with its recent Nexus 7 tablet, cloud computing and social networking. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Google may launch retail stores in the U.S. This move could support its venture into Web-based digital glasses.
Google does not pay a dividend. It is sitting on $48 billion in cash, and the company could easily afford a big dividend for its investors or maybe a stock buyback.
However, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt plans to sell up to 3.2 million shares, valued at roughly $2.5 billion, in the next year. Schmidt holds 7.6 million shares of Google stock, a 2.3 percent stake in the company.
Among the majority of analysts, Google is a current and long-term buy.