Monday, March 26, 2012

Final Four

Final Four NCAA basketball: The Ohio State University Buckeyes, Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Louisville Cardinals – RR likes Kentucky.

Final Four NCAA hockey: Boston College Eagles, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Union Dutchmen, Ferris State Bulldogs – RR likes Boston College.

Final Four Masters Golf  Tournament : Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson – RR likes Tiger Woods.

Final Four Kraft Nabisco Championship: Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Brittany Linicome, Sun Young Yoo – RR likes Yani Tseng.

Final Four 2012 Major League Baseball Season: Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds – RR likes Detroit Tigers.

Final Four reasons for a new direction: $36.6 M, ACTING, Ethics, Mr. 30 hour work week – RR likes Mr. 30 hour work week.

Final Four 2012 Presidential Candidates: President Obama, Governor Romney, Representative Paul, R.J. Harris – RR likes President Obama.

Final Four Spring Garden Vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans – RR likes peppers.

Final Four places to retire: La Quinta, CA, Harbor Springs, MI, Maui, HI, Tucson, AZ. – RR likes (tie) La Quinta, CA & Harbor Springs, MI.

Final Four Second Quarter stock picks: Apple Computer, Consol Energy, Inc., McDonalds Corporation, FuelCell Energy Inc. – RR likes Consol Energy.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Herb Albert (77), Warren Beatty (75), James Caan (72), Earl Campbell (57), Eric Clapton (67), David Eisenhower (65), Gordie Howe (84), Reba McEntire (57), Nancy Pelosi (72), Debbie Reynolds (80).

SECRET SERVICE CODE NAMES: "Romney elected to call himself 'Javelin.' And Rick Santorum chose 'Petrus.' ... 'Petrus,' is a biblical allusion, Latin for 'Rock'-and 'Peter'-as in St. Peter, the first pope. Perhaps 'Javelin' is a reference to the '60s muscle car made by American Motors Corporation, the company once run by [Mitt's dad,] George Romney."

APPLE CALLS FOR REPATRIATION HOLIDAY: "Apple outlined plans ... to pay its first dividend in 17 years as the US technology group, sitting on a cash pile estimated to exceed $100bn, conceded it could not return cash to shareholders as quickly as it was generating it. [Apple] promised to return about $45bn to shareholders over the next three years, including $10bn to be spent buying back shares. But the payments are unlikely to prevent the further rapid escalation of its cash mountain, which grew $38bn last year alone.

"Apple executives indicated that they had limited the scale of the shareholder payout because the company would have faced an extra US tax liability if it had dug into the $65bn of cash and investments held outside the country. They also added their voices to recent calls from wealthy technology companies for a tax holiday to bring more money home, though the US Treasury has stood firm against the idea ... Apple's shares, which had already gained 45 per cent since the start of 2012 on the back of a fresh surge in sales and the launch of the new iPad, rose 2.7 per cent on Monday.

AP DELEGATE TRACKER -- Romney: 563 ... Santorum: 263 ... Gingrich: 135 ... Ron Paul: 50 ... Huntsman: 2.

STUDENT DEBT BOMB: $1 TRILLION: "Recently, we undertook what we understand is the first major effort to understand the size of the private student loan market. ... Our initial findings on the size of the private student loan market are sobering. When we add in the outstanding debt in the federal student loan program, it appears that outstanding student loan debt hit the trillion dollar mark several months ago - much larger than estimates from other recent reports. It seems that this market is too big to fail. ... Excessive student debt can slow the recovery of the housing market. Student loan borrowers are sending big payments every month to their loan servicers, rather than becoming first-time homebuyers. This debt can also put added stress on the borrowing capacity of the household and government sector."

STUDENT LOAN BUBBLE – We have been saying it for over a year, I believe that the student loan bubble will be the next to burst, and it will affect more people than the housing crisis. Unfortunately, Congress chooses only to address the symptoms of the problem (for example, Senator Durbin's bill that would allow individuals to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy) instead of attacking the root."

HILLARY:,"What Hillary did next: Since failing to win the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton has loyally served Barack Obama as secretary of state. We assess her record and ponder her plans": "Not once in three years has she quarrelled in public with Mr Obama ... Not until the archives are opened will historians know reliably what big issues, if any, she and Mr Obama fought over. But on most big decisions there has been little cause to fight. She and the president had a shared view of America's global predicament after George W. Bush left office. ... Barring some mishap, she looks set to leave with her reputation enhanced."

BIDEN BUZZ REVISITED (JILL BIDEN ON BOARD?) – it had been reported a couple weeks back that many Beltway insiders were buzzing about Joe Biden's hires of Clinton era political hands (led by Steve Ricchetti) as an indication that the Vice President might run for the top job in 2016, defying conventional wisdom that his political career would end after an Obama II administration. POLITICO's Glenn Thrush went deep with it: "For the past couple of years ... Biden has quietly assembled an A-team of advisers who would, without doubt, be considered the nucleus of a presidential campaign - if only he wouldn't be 73 in 2016 ... But the old fire crackles yet." A person close to Biden-land said Thrush nailed it but added another interesting tidbit: "Jill Biden has learned to really enjoy public life and would be enthusiastic if he were to run....  And one should NEVER underestimate how important spousal-support is to a POTUS run.

THE MARKETS - The final week of the month and the first quarter is upon us, with the Dow and S&P 500 limping to the finish line after a mostly upbeat first three months of 2012.  Last week saw the biggest losses of 2012 for both, but the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq are all finishing Q1 on the plus side, with the Nasdaq poised for its biggest quarterly percentage gain since the second quarter of 2009.
CHENEY AMONG OLDEST TO GET HEART TRANSPLANT: "After being on a waiting list for almost two years, ... the 71-year-old Mr. Cheney on Saturday underwent heart-transplant surgery and was recovering Sunday in the intensive-care unit of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church."

ONLY $12.7 MILLION??? - "Athletic-gear maker Nike Inc. Inc. posted a 10% increase in revenue and a 12% rise in net income in the fiscal year ended May 31, 2011. But the company missed three-year targets for revenue and per-share earnings that had been set in 2008, so CEO Mark Parker received a smaller bonus, driving his total compensation down 5.8%, to $12.7 million."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Super Court begins its review of Obama's Affordable Care Act today by hearing arguments on whether the issue is even ripe or whether it needs to wait until the individual mandate goes into effect in 2014 ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke speaks today at the National Association for Business Economics in Arlington, Va. ... House Energy subcommittee has a gas price hearing Wednesday and a House Financial Services subcommittee has an MF Global hearing ... House Financial services has a CFPB hearing on Thursday ... Euro finance ministers meet in Copenhagen on Friday and Saturday where the enhanced firewall could be laid out ... Romney heads to California this week to raise money ... Key data include pending home sales today at 10:00 a.m. (1 percent rise excepted) and S&P/Case-Shiller home prices on Tuesday (0.3 percent declined expected) ... Consumer confidence, also on Tuesday, expected to dip to 70.0 from 70.8

Next week, Jackass of the Month, words of the month, and a restaurant review.
Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 26, 2012

#II-48, 101

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