Friday, February 21, 2014

Netflix speeds lag for Verizon users amid dispute

verizon netflix traffic

Streaming speeds for Verizon FiOS customers dropped by 14% between December and January, according to Netflix

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Having trouble streaming "House of Cards?" A stand-off involving Verizon and Netflix may be to blame.

Streaming speeds for Verizon FiOS customers dropped by 14% between December and January, according to Netflix. Meanwhile, Netflix speeds on most other Internet service providers held steady during that time period.

The slowdown comes amid a stand-off reported this week by The Wall Street Journal over whether broadband providers like Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) and AT&T (T, Fortune 500) will charge Netflix to carry its videos.

Netflix (NFLX) relies heavily on third parties -- primarily Cogent Communications (CCOI) -- to deliver content from its servers to Internet service providers. Traditionally, broadband companies and bandwidth providers like Cogent haven't charged one another, on the assumption that traffic that flows back and forth over their networks will even out over time.

But recently, broadband companies have begun demanding payment when they feel they're being overburdened in the exchange.

How the Comcast-TWC deal will hit your TV   How the Comcast-TWC deal will hit your TV

Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) wants Netflix to pay for the enormous amounts of traffic that get sent over its FiOS network, the Journal reported. Netflix is a data hog, its streaming content sometimes making up around a third of traffic on U.S. broadband networks during peak hours.

Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer said Verizon was "using their monopoly power to put a toll road in place."

"They're refusing to improve the connections between our network and their network," he told CNNMoney.

A Netflix spokesman declined to comment, but the company in the past has characterized the slowdown in Verizon's streaming speeds as a consequence of network congestion.

Verizon spokeswoman Linda Laughlin denied that there was any conflict with Netflix.

"Verizon continues to be open to ideas about the best ways to alleviate congestion so all customers benefit from the best quality of service possible," she said. "Verizon treats all traffic equally."

The broadband ind! ustry has been in the spotlight in recent weeks over concerns about consolidation and net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers should avoid discriminating among various kinds of online traffic.

A federal appeals court stuck down the Federal Communication Commission's net neutrality rules last month, though the ruling did affirm the FCC's authority in principle to regulate broadband Internet service.

The FCC said Wednesday that it planned to issue new rules "to preserve Internet freedom and openness" under a legal framework that will better stand up to scrutiny in the courts. Net neutrality advocates are hopeful that the new rules will prevent broadband providers from restricting access to certain sites or imposing fees for certain web content.

Concerns about potential abuses in the industry gained additional urgency last week following news that Comcast (CCV) intends to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC, Fortune 500), a deal that would combine the two biggest cable companies in the United States.

The deal would give Comcast even more leverage over the country's marketplace for television, broadband Internet and phone services. It's likely to face significant scrutiny from federal regulators. To top of page

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Busy Week for Electric Vehicle (EV) News: TSLA, KNDI & GACR

The latest green or electric car news is naturally dominated by the latest earnings report from Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), but there is actually plenty of other industry news to consider along with news from small cap electric vehicle stocks like Kandi Technologies Group Inc (NASDAQ: KNDI) and Green Automotive Co (OTCMKTS: GACR) to hit the newswires in the first few days of this week to also consider:

Tesla Motors is Set to Soar. After the market closed yesterday, Tesla Motors reported fourth quarter and full year results which can be viewed here plus held its earnings conference call whose transcript is available here on Seeking Alpha. There is already plenty of commentary about the earnings report filling the Yahoo! Finance newswires and it appears that Wall Street is focusing on the lower than expected lost and the rosy guidance, but the company did warn that it expects to be constrained by tight battery supplies in the first half. Tesla Motors fell 4.94% to $193.64 but the stock is rising as much as 12.6% in after hours trading. Shares are also up 422.8% over the past year and up 908.5% since July 2010.

The Chinese Take Over Fisker Automotive. China's Wanxiang Group has won court approval in Delaware to take over failed luxury hybrid-car maker Fisker Automotive Incafter outbidding Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li in a bankruptcy auction. Li's group has already signaled it would move to collect most of the $149.2 million Wanxiang is paying as it exercises its rights as Fisker's senior secured lender to trump the claims of unpaid suppliers. Chinese EV Subsidies Should Help Tesla and Kandi Technologies Group. Electric car stocks got a boast on Monday on news that China will give more subsidies for electric vehicles than previously announced as it tries to cut rising air pollution. Specifically, China's government will soften a planned cut in government subsidies to electric car buyers to 5% from the previously announced 10% for this year and reduce the subsidy by 10% in 2015 instead of 20%. The subsidy program was also extended beyond 2015. It should be noted that Tesla Motors opened its first mainland China showroom in Beijing late last year and is expected to quickly ramp sales of its high-end electric cars while China's Kandi Technologies, which makes specialized electric vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles, will also probably benefit from the move. Otherwise, investors should be aware that the Kandi Technologies Group is up 250.4% over the past year and up 1,568.7% over the past five years.

Apple Looks Into Electric Cars and Medical Devices. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Apple's merger and acquisition chief Adrian Perica had met with Elon Musk last spring while the Telegraph noted that in October of last year, German banking analyst Adnaan Ahamd had urged the company to invest in Tesla to "radically alter Apple's growth profile." Apple is also reportedly looking into medical devices – specifically sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks. How To Charge All of Those Electric Cars? The MIT Technology Review has an interesting article outlining a problem that will develop if electric vehicles get to popular: How to keep all of them charged. However, mathematicians have worked out how electricity companies can distribute their power fairly to car owners, but having accurate information about driving habits may still be a cause for concern. Lithium Companies Join Forces to Build a Better EV Battery. Bosch, GS Yuasa and Mitsubishi have announced a joint venture to improve development of the next generation of batteries for electric vehicles with the goal of doubling energy capacity to help make electric cars truly mass-market in the next decade. Currently, the majority of EVs on sale provide a range of 70 to 100 miles – which is actually adequate for most drivers but its still perceived as a limitation. Each firm will bring something to the table as Bosch has expertise in packs and management systems plus knowledge about integrating packs into vehicles; GS Yuasa has years of experience in manufacturing high-density cells; and Mitsubishi has a large sales network plus experience in global value-added chains. Green Automotive Co Announces an Acquisition. A state-of-the-art niche vehicle design, engineering, manufacturing and sales company, Riverside California based small cap Green Automotive Company has a focus on three key electric vehicle related market segments: Liberty Electric Cars Ltd designs and develops EV technologies for use in its own converted vehicles and for sale to OEM's for incorporation into their production plus provides a full aftermarket program for electric vehicle users. Newport Coachworks Inc specializes in building high quality shuttle buses that run on a variety of energy sources, ranging from gasoline and diesel to CNG. GoinGreen Ltd pioneered electric vehicles in the UK with the G-Wiz which saw sales of 1400 vehicles. In 2012, GoinGreen embarked on a programme to become the first "1 stop shop" for sales of all sustainable transport solutions.

On Tuesday, the Green Automotive Company signed a binding agreement to buy California and Mexico-based Blackhawk Manufacturing Inc and its affiliated companies. Blackhawk manufacturers specialist composite materials with facilities in Bloomington CA and Tijuana Mexico with sales of around $5 million per annum. Blackhawk Manufacturing Inc is already a supplier to Green Automotive Co plus several parts of GACR's business will benefit from the facilities that Blackhawk provides. Otherwise, it should be noted that at the end of last year, Green Automotive Company announced it had started selling the electric Mia – an ultra-compact, silent, economical and zero-emission vehicle with a range of up to 80 miles – making it a good option for consumers living in big urban areas with limited parking who need an option beyond public transportation.

On Wednesday, small cap Green Automotive Co fell 1.89% to $0.052 for a market cap of $20.60 million.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Latinos not flocking to Obamacare

mnsure obamacare latinos

Minnesota's Obamacare exchange is reaching out to Latinos with Spanish-language marketing.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Latinos may have the most to gain from Obamacare.

But they're shying away from signing up for health insurance on the exchanges.

At least one in three Latinos in the U.S. are uninsured, a far higher rate than whites or blacks. Yet, advocates say their Obamacare enrollment is lagging for a variety of reasons.

"Some of these families have never had insurance in their lives," said Xavier Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.

Just how many Latinos and other minorities are signing up isn't known because only the California exchange asks applicants for their race and ethnicity, though the question is optional. In other states, advocates say it's been tougher than expected to get these groups to apply.

Only 19% of Latinos and 20% of blacks have looked for health insurance on the exchanges, compared to 28% of whites, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey.

In California, fewer than 20% of applicants identified themselves as of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, according to the exchange. That compares to the estimate that about 46% of subsidy-eligible Californians are Latino. Enrollment in the Golden State is being watched closely since it's considered a model for the rest of the country.

Share your story: Have you begun using your Obamacare benefits?

Morales ticks off the same reasons for the lagging enrollment as other advocates CNNMoney interviewed.

Deportation: Many Latinos live in households where one member is undocumented. Not only is that resident not eligible for Obamacare, but many families fear that signing up will attract the attention of immigration officials.

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health now gets 4,000 calls a month to its help line, up from 300 queries pre-Obamacare, said Jane Delgado, the research and advocacy group's chief executive. One of the main questions people have concerned so-called mixed-status families, when at least one person is not in the U.S. legally.

The federal government has said that information collected through the exchanges will not be shared with immigration se! rvices, but that doesn't assuage everyone's fears.

Lack of awareness: Latinos are even less familiar with the exchanges than other groups. Only 49% were aware of their state exchange, compared to 68% of whites and 69% of blacks, according to the Commonwealth Fund survey.

Though the exchanges have funded a network of enrollment counselors, advocates have complained that it's still not enough, particularly in places where the state government opposes Obamacare, such as Texas and Florida. There's been a shortage of bilingual counselors in many places.

"You have to have a lot of face-to-face discussions with folks to educate them," said Frank Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Healthcare Forum in Texas. Counselors have to explain more than just insurance -- they have to go into the federal subsidies, which gets into estimated income and tax returns, to better understand what applicants can afford.

Spanish-language sites: Delays in translating exchange websites and materials into Spanish, as well as other languages, has also tamped down enrollment. Some 63% of Latinos surveyed by Latino Decisions, a political opinion research group, said they wanted Obamacare information in Spanish. But the federal exchange didn't launch its Spanish language site,, until December, and it quickly came under attack for being riddled with translation errors. Applicants still can't browse their plan options in Spanish.

Tom Perkins: Obama is 'amateur president'   Tom Perkins: Obama is 'amateur president'

Skepticism: Since many have never had insurance, applicants are also skeptical that they can afford coverage or that it's worth the money, advocates say. Key to turning this view around will be for enrollees to spread the benefits of insurance by word of mo! uth.


"People need to see their neighbors are relatives are signing up and getting that insurance card and accessing insurance," Morales said.

With six weeks left to go in the open enrollment period for 2014, exchange officials and advocates are ramping up outreach to minority communities. They are holding enrollment events, distributing marketing materials and advertising via video and social media.

In Minnesota, for example, the MNsure exchange is rolling out a series of videos starring well-known figures in the state's ethnic communities to discuss their health struggles and the importance of insurance.

The most effective outreach is through trusted partners in the community, said Mary Sienko, marketing director for MNsure, which is seeking to target the Spanish, Somali and Hmong groups in the state. "We still see opportunities across all age groups and ethnicities." To top of page

Monday, February 17, 2014


Thanks to gains in drilling efficiency, companies can drill more wells with fewer rigs. But not all land rigs are the same. Older mechanical drilling rigs aren't capable of drilling the long, complex, horizontal wells used to produce oil and natural gas from shale fields, explains Elliott Gue, editor of Energy and Income Advisor.

Our investment thesis: Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) continues to upgrade its fleet of drilling rigs, replacing older units with advanced APEX Walking rigs.

In a traditional drilling operation, the rig would be completely disassembled (rigged down, in industry parlance) after completing a well, and then moved to the next drilling location for reassembly (rigging up).

APEX Walking rigs can walk up to 150 feet in any direction on a drilling pad. These advanced rigs can travel ten feet to 20 feet in about 45 minutes. Best of all, the rigs do not have to be rigged down before they're moved to their next drilling location, but can walk across a pad fully assembled.

Patterson's new fleet of Walking Rigs command higher day-rates—the fee Patterson charges producers to lease a rig—and will boost the firm's profitability.

The company will accelerate this fleet renewal program, adding 12 advanced rigs in the first half of next year. By comparison, the contract driller added about six APEX Walking units in the back half of 2013.

The company expects strong demand for these high-specification rigs to continue, though day-rates for older rigs have softened in the spot market. On balance, management forecasts that the average day-rates earned by the company's fleet will increase to $22,900 in the fourth quarter, with revenue from newly delivered rigs offsetting contract resets on its mechanical units.

We expect Patterson-UTI Energy's profitability to continue to improve, as the company upgrades its rig portfolio. Shares of Patterson-UTI Energy trade at an undemanding valuation and rate a buy up to US$27.00.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to Invest in Mortgages for Total Returns (Not Speculation)

Mortgages are an enormous market, worth $9.4 trillion in 2013, but investing directly in them can be a challenge for homeowners and renters alike.

Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) have some similar characteristics, but their structure and risk-reward profiles differ from whole mortgages, which are comprised of single residential or commercial mortgages issued by a lender but not securitized.

Another key difference between RMBS and whole-mortgage is that a specific asset—a property—backs whole mortgages, says Bayard Closser, president of Vertical Capital Asset Management Group, in Irvine, Calif.

In addition, a lender can identify the borrower of a specific mortgage—it’s not an anonymous pooling arrangement. That’s important information for investors, Closser says.

“You have the ability to do very specific underwriting and analysis as to how good is the credit of the asset or of the borrower, how good is the collateral, in other words the value of the property,” he explained in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. “Then you can look at it and also do an evaluation of how much equity is in it based on what they owe and the value of the property.”

In other words, an investor can evaluate each property and borrower individually before deciding to buy a whole-mortgage note from the lender that made the original loan.

It’s a labor-intensive process, Closser notes. His firm, for instance does not have dozens of general analysts on staff, but it does have plenty of credit, underwriting and due diligence specialists. Vertical Capital Asset Management Group operates in 43 states, he adds, and uses local experts to evaluate specific properties.

Another complicating factor in whole-mortgage investing, he point out, is that mortgages are classified by payment status:

The level of analysis and amount of capital required to build a diversified portfolio of whole mortgages can keep even wealthy investors out of the market.

Recognizing these hurdles as an opportunity, the firm launched its Vertical Capital Income Fund (VCAPX), about two years ago, to acquire whole-mortgage notes.

The fund invests primarily in performing notes and had roughly $58 million of assets at year-end 2013. It is structured as a closed-end interval fund.

That format allows Vertical to offer shares continuously while raising assets. Investors can tender shares and redeem funds quarterly during the fund-raising period.

The fund takes a value-investor approach to identifying potential acquisitions, Closser explains. 

“What we want to know is if the worst case scenario happened, that we had to foreclose and quickly sell the house, what’s that value?” he said. “That’s the value that we’re looking for.”

The group looks for short sales, foreclosures and distressed sales “to get the value of the property,” Closser adds. “We want to know that we’re below that number. And, that’s where we think that the difference between that number and what we paid for the asset is ultimately what we will recover.”

Here’s a hypothetical example of that valuation process from a white paper recently published by Vertical (“A New Highly Collateralized, Non-Correlative Asset Class).

The note had an original value of $100,000, a coupon of 5% and a current value of $90,000. Vertical Capital would seek to acquire the note for $65,000, an amount that would provide the value differential that Closser references.

The fund trades on NASDAQ with a minimum investment of $5,000; $1,000 for retirement accounts. As of Jan. 31, its one-year return was 6.76% (without the 4.5% sales load) with an SEC annual yield of 5.04%.

Although the fund is positioned as an income fund, between 65% and 70% of investors reinvest their dividends, indicating that current shareholders are using the fund for a total-return play, says Closser.

The fund makes sense for conservative investors seeking to diversify beyond the traditional income-oriented asset classes, he shares: “This gives them another unit of diversification…we can provide you an above average yield with a relative degree of principal security because of the assets that we’re investing in, (that are) not correlated to many other things.”

Though it is restricted liquidity, the fund does have some liquidity to it, the executive points out. “So, it fits in there very nicely to help people raise the income on their portfolio,” he said.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Graco Recalls Nearly 3.8 Million Car Seats That Could Trap Kids

Toddler asleep in car seatAlamy DETROIT -- Graco is recalling nearly 3.8 million car safety seats because children can get trapped by buckles that may not unlatch. But the company has drawn the ire of federal safety regulators who say the recall should include another 1.8 million rear-facing car seats designed for infants. The recall covers 11 models made from 2009 through 2013 by Graco Children's Products of Atlanta, a unit of Newell Rubbermaid (NWL). It's the fourth-largest child seat recall in U.S. history, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's road safety watchdog. The agency warned that the problem could make it "difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire or other emergency." NHTSA also criticized Graco in a sternly-worded letter dated Tuesday, saying the recall excludes seven infant car seat models with the same buckles. Both the company and NHTSA have received complaints about stuck buckles on the infant seats, the agency said. "Some of these consumers have had no choice but to resort to the extreme measure of cutting the harness straps to remove their child from the car seat," the NHTSA letter said. The agency wants Graco to identify the total number of seats that potentially have the defect and explain why it excluded the infant seats. NHTSA, which began investigating the seats in October of 2012, said the investigation remains open. The agency said it could hold a public hearing and require Graco to add the infant seats. Graco, a division of Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid, told The Associated Press that its tests found that food or beverages can make the harness buckles in the children's seats sticky and harder to use over time. Rear-facing infant seats aren't being recalled because infants don't get food or drinks on their seats, Graco spokeswoman Ashley Mowrey said. But Mowrey said Graco will send replacement buckles to owners of infant seats upon request. Mowrey said the company has issued cleaning tips for the buckles, and began sending replacement buckles to owners last summer. Graco is also sending instructions for how to replace the buckles and posting a video on its website to show parents how to replace them. In documents sent to NHTSA, Graco estimated that less than 1 percent of the seats involved in the recall have had buckles that were stuck or difficult to unlatch. Mowrey said there have been no reported injuries due to the defect. Parents should check seat buckles and contact Graco for a free replacement, NHTSA said. The agency also said people should get another safety seat for their children until their Graco seat is fixed. NHTSA, in the letter to Graco, also accused the company of soft-pedaling the recall with "incomplete and misleading" documents that will be seen by consumers. The agency threatened civil penalties and said that Graco should delete from its documents "any statements that may lead the public to discount the seriousness of the safety risk presented by this defect." In addition, NHTSA said that last month, it started investigating four models of Evenflo child safety seats, which have a design similar to the recalled Graco seats and may use buckles made by the same manufacturer, AmSafe Commercial Products Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana. "NHTSA is also in contact with AmSafe to identify any additional child seat manufacturers that use harness buckles of the same or similar design," NHTSA's statement said. Details of the Recall • Effects car safety seats sold between 2009 and 2013 • Children can get trapped by buckles that may not unlatch. • Graco says the defect happens when food or drinks get stuck in the buckles. The company will send replacement buckles for free to customers who have registered their seats or who call the company's hotline, 800-345-4109. They can also send an e-mail to Here are the seats involved in the recall:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Stocks to Watch: AutoNavi, Dick's Sporting Goods, Supertex

Among the companies with shares expected to actively trade in Monday’s session are AutoNavi Holdings Ltd.(AMAP), Dick's Sporting Goods Inc.(DKS) and Supertex Inc.(SUPX)

AutoNavi, a Chinese digital maps and navigation company, received an offer from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to be taken private, valuing the company at $1.03 billion. Shares surged 27% to $21.05 premarket, topping the $21 offer price.

Dick’s Sporting said its fiscal fourth-quarter sales exceeded expectations, compelling the company to boost its guidance for the full year and the period. Shares of the sporting-goods retailer were up 7.1% to $54.75 in premarket trade.

Kite Realty Group Trust ag(KRG)reed to merge with fellow real-estate firm Inland Diversified Real Estate Trust in a stock-for-stock deal that will create a company worth $2.1 billion. Kite Realty shares climbed 5.7% to $6.50 premarket.

Microchip Technology Inc.(MCHP) agreed to acquire fellow semiconductor manufacturer Supertex for about $394 million to strengthen its analog business. Shares surged 36% to $33.05 premarket, topping the offer price of $33 a share.

Electronic payments company ACI Worldwide Inc.(ACIW) trimmed its full-year guidance, citing its inability to finalize several contracts that were expected to close in the fourth quarter.

American Airlines Group Inc.(AAL) reported passenger traffic rose 3.8% in January from a year earlier, led by growth in in its international segment.

James River Coal Co.(JRCC) said it has tapped advisers to help the troubled Appalachian coal mining company explore a potential sale and other strategic alternatives.

Jones Group Inc.(JNY) said its fourth-quarter loss narrowed as the footwear and apparel maker’s lower costs offset a continued decline in revenue. Adjusted earnings beat expectations.

McDonald's Corp.(MCD) said its global same-store sales improved 1.2% in January, with stronger performances in China and Europe making up for softness in the U.S. The company last month forecast same-restaurant sales for January to be “relatively flat.”

E.W. Scripps Co.(SSP) agreed to acquire two television stations, one in Detroit and another in Buffalo, N.Y., for a combined $110 million from Granite Broadcasting Corp.(GRRP)

A treatment for a diabetic eye condition improved vision during a Phase 3 trial, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.(REGN) and Bayer HealthCare said Monday.

SunEdison Inc.(SUNE) said Monday it will move its semiconductor crystal operations out of the U.S. and close its polysilicon manufacturing facility in Merano, Italy, which will affect more than 300 employees.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

10 retirement resolutions to set for 2014

Things have been good this year. The stock market has had an incredible run. The economy and housing are starting to turn around. And we have all saved enough money to live an incredible lifestyle in retirement.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Most of us have not saved enough for retirement. I've doled out dozens of tips for retirement and common mistakes in 2013. So, as we head into the new year I'd like to remind you of some of the most important.

1. If you haven't already, start thinking about retirement and retirement planning — especially if you've turned 50. "Spend more time on retirement planning and invest more dollars for retirement," says Maclyn Clouse, professor of finance at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. "Do not rely only on Social Security. As Congress and the president look for ways to reduce our budget deficits, it is likely that we will see cut backs in payments to future Social Security recipients. It is also likely that the age at which you can begin to receive payments will be increased."

RETIREMENT: Your plan for the future

2. Have a plan for your life in retirement. Plan for some sort of transition, and have activities planned. "One program I teach is never retire, which deals with the psychological transition into retirement," says author and former financial planner Frank Maselli. "The typical structure is a man has been working 35 years. The spouse has been home. Suddenly the husband is home. It can be the cause of family stress and many families exploding or imploding. Take normal stress of a transition, and throw in the fact that your wife can't stand seeing you all day."

3. Don't let family members throw your retirement off track. We all love our kids, but financial planners warn to be careful not to let them hurt your retirement preparations. Retirement accounts are not a good way to fund a college education. There are so many more options for saving for college, and with a little planning you can keep you reti! rement on track and send your child to college. Also, parents should have a plan for when the kids return home, whether it's after college or because some of a life emergency.

"You have to draw some lines and limits," says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, founder of "Nobody has an infinite amount of cash. We want to help our children or grandkids. For most Americans it is a challenge to secure a comfortable retirement of their own, let alone help extended family."

4. It's never too late to start saving, but late starters need to temper lifestyle expectations. If you are 50 or older, you need to start thinking about changes you need to make to be able to retire. Some may have to keep working to make up for all those years of not saving. Others may have to sell their homes or downsize.

Best Blue Chip Stocks To Watch Right Now

5. The possibility of running out of money in retirement is real for millions of people. You should not underestimate your life span. There's probably a good chance you will live into your 80s or 90s. And if you don't have a well-thought-out plan, you could outlive your savings. Planners recommend that people consider delaying retirement.

"If a married couple retires at 65 , there's a good chance one will live into their mid-90s," says Joe Heider, regional managing principal for Rehmann Financial Group in Cleveland. "If you live another 25 years, you're in retirement for half of your working life. If you retire at 60 you are almost in retirement as long as you were working, and you need to account for inflation."

6. If you are planning to continue to work in retirement, you may be in for a shock. Many people who have not saved enough plan to make up the difference by continuing to work and delaying retirement. Problem is, for a variety of reasons, many people are not able to work into their 60s. The biggest reason is health issues. But, yes, ! age discr! imination is an issue as well.

POLL: Half of older workers plan to retire later

7. Don't underestimate health care costs in retirement. "A shock that I've seen that devastates people in retirement is unanticipated medial expenses and health issues," says Kent Caldwell-Meeks, senior director of investment and fiduciary services at Wells Fargo Wealth Management Group. He says people will be in retirement for 20 to 40 years, and need to have a financial plan that accounts for that.

HEALTH COSTS: Ways to help with health care in retirement

8. The less debt you have going into retirement, the more likely you are to find success in your retirement. "Anybody who is seriously thinking about preparing for retirement must reduce their debt," says Khalfani-Cox. "This goes into a number of areas, not just credit card debt. There's mortgage debt and even student loan debt, because so many older Americans have gone back to school and financed their education or co-signed for their adult children. All of that debt is really a ball and chain around you if you are going into your golden years."

9. Figure out how to make Social Security work best for you. Most financial planners recommend that you delay taking Social Security for as long as you can. That makes sense in that every year you delay receiving Social Security, your check increases by 8%. But the truth is most people cannot afford to wait. A good financial planner will work with you to figure out what strategy is best for you.

PLAN AHEAD: What age is best to start taking Social Security?

SOCIAL SECURITY: What you don't know about it can hurt you

"It's true that the longer you wait, the more you get," says Jeff Bucher, President of Citizen Advisory Group in Perrysburg, Ohio. "But that's not always the easier plan for everybody. We look at the holistic portfolio and all the choices. If we wait till 70 that will be the max age, and for some people they can't do that. Even at 66 or 67, some people need that money ear! lier. Whe! n you boil it down, Social Security is a significant amount of retirement income, but little planning goes into what to elect to get. There are different strategies to maximize what you get."

10. Do not be too conservative in your retirement savings. "There is a tendency to for people in retirement to be way too conservative in their investments," says Heider. "They no longer feel the need to hedge against inflation. Most need exposure to the equity markets. They have to have some exposure, in most cases, if they are going to have a reasonable expectation of maintaining that nest egg during retirement."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Twitter shares tumble after earnings report

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on Wednesday came out pitching the case for the service's mainstream potential as the company faced growth concerns in its first financial report to Wall Street since going public.

Twitter beat Wall Street's sales and profit forecasts, but shares nose-dived more than 17% in after-hours trading on lackluster user growth and engagement figures.

"We can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find the service as indispensable as our existing core users do," Costolo said on the company's conference call.

Share of Twitter plummeted $11.59, to $54.38, following its letdown that monthly active users came in at 241 million, a 30% year-over-year increase but well below expectations. Twitter's engagement dropped to 148 billion Timeline Views, an 11 billion decline from the previous quarter.

SHINAL: Wall Street has yet to learn Twitter's language

"What twitter needs to prove is two things, that they can dramatically increase engagement with advertisers and they can dramatically increase engagement with users. The market is now questioning whether they can go mainstream," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney.

The company, based here, reported $9.8 million in net income, or 2 cents per share, on $243 million in revenue.

Twitter was expected to report a loss of $13 million in net income on $218 million in revenue in the quarter, according to the survey of estimates from Thomson Reuters. Analysts were predicting a loss of 2 cents per share.

Twitter said in its earnings report that it now sees 75% of its advertising revenue from mobile, up from 70% in the previous quarter.

Shares of Twitter have seen a 47% run-up in trading since the company went public Nov. 7.

"We feel very well positioned for growth in 2014," said Costolo.

Twitter has a lofty valuation relative to its peers. Twitter is valued at about $37 billion, or nearly 33 times estimated 2014 sales! of $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, Facebook trades at 14 times this year's sales forecasts while LinkedIn is at 12 times.

Also of concern, Twitter's deceleration of monthly active users, a closely watched measurement, raises questions about its ability to continue to grow as steadily as Facebook.

The company faces some headwinds in lock-up expirations on its stock as well. About 9.9 million shares will become eligible for sale by non-executive insiders on Feb. 15, and on May 7 it's expected that 454.3 million shares held by all insiders will lose trading restrictions, putting downward pressure on the stock.

"My guess is that Twitter will be successful long term in re-accelerating user engagement," said Mahaney.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

GenCorp Subsidiary Lands Air Force Nuke Engine Contract

Aerojet Rocketdyne is heading back to space ... with a bullet.

On Monday, the GenCorp (NYSE: GY  ) subsidiary announced that it has won a contract from the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Propulsion Applications Program to demonstrate a new Medium Class Stage III motor that could be used to refurbish America's aging arsenal of Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Rocketdyne noted that its role will be to develop, build and demo of a full-scale motor that, if successful, could replace the SR-73 third stage motors currently used on the Minuteman. Rocketdyne Vice President of Missile Defense and Strategic Systems Michael Bright called the contract "an important win" for this company, and a chance to help "maintain critical industrial base capability in solid rocket motor design and development" for the country.

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The U.S. arsenal currently contains some 450 operational Minuteman III missiles.

In addition to the Minuteman program, Rocketdyne says its new engine could eventually become the basis for "a family of affordable, sustainable motors that can support a wide range of potential AF solutions," among them, powering drone missiles used for target practice by missile defense system interceptors.