BY MALCOLM BERKO
RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2018
Dear Mr. Berko: I am very nervous about the stock market and have been selling my weak stocks — those that have weak financial statements and those I don’t think will be able to keep their profit momentum during a big downturn. For example, I’m selling Ford and General Motors, my airline stocks, some of my real estate investment trusts, two restaurant stocks, all of my small telecommunications stocks, two media stocks, insurance stocks, bank stocks, and mortgage issues. But I want to remain in the market with stocks rated A++, because they have the highest financial strength and, though they may also fall in price, they will continue their dividends and recover well when the market comes back. What stocks would you recommend? I have $84,000 to invest. — HK, Kankakee, Ill.
Dear HK: The designation A++, for the few who don’t know, is Value Line’s top safety rating. It tells us that the financial strength of a company is among the best of the 1,700 companies followed by Value Line. Value Line’s ratings are measured by companies’ balance sheets and financial ratios and by the stability of their stock prices over the past five years. Value Line also considers business risk, the level and direction of profits, cash flow, earned returns, cash on hand, and the size of a company. But be mindful that the Value Line safety rating is a quality rank and not a performance rank. Please read that sentence again.
Less than 5 percent of Value Line stocks have the highest rating. Here are eight stocks that are rated A++ by Value Line, each yielding 3 percent or higher and having a long-term history of increasing dividends.
Everyone knows IBM (IBM-$164) as a worldwide supplier of technology, business services and software systems. IBM pays a $6 dividend and yields 3.6 percent. A dozen years ago, IBM was $80, and the dividend was 78 cents. Wall Streets is bullish on IBM’s earnings and dividends for the coming years.
Qualcomm (QCOM-$68) designs and markets integrated circuits used in voice and data communications, and the dividend, which is now $2.28 and yields 3.55 percent, has increased from 9 cents in 2003 when the stock was trading in the high $20s. QCOM’s merger talks with Broadcom are contentious, and some think it won’t happen. If it doesn’t, the Street thinks good things are in store for QCOM in 2018.
AT&T (T-$36.50) provides communication, entertainment, and internet services to businesses around the world. The $2 dividend yields 5.3 percent and has increased each year since the Lord’s dog was a puppy. Both revenues and earnings should increase in 2018.
Pfizer (PFE-$36.40) sells drugs, lots of drugs. In fact, PFE sold $53 billion worth of drugs in 2017. Drugs such as Prevnar 13, Enbrel, Lyrica and Lipitor have enabled PFE to raise its earnings yearly and have enough money to spend hundreds of millions on TV advertising. The current $1.36 dividend yields 3.7 percent and should be increased in 2018.
Paychex (PAYX-$67) is a national provider of affordable full-service payroll services, as well as human resources services. PAYX’s $2 dividend yields 3 percent. Net profit margins are 26 percent, and return on equity is 43 percent. Expect continued earnings and dividend growth.
Merck & Co. (MRK-$62.52) is a $40 billion drug company that has an impressively fecund drug pipeline, which will stand it in good stead over the coming dozen years. MRK’s $1.92 dividend yields 3.4 percent, and profits and dividends should increase in 2018.
Coca-Cola (KO-$46) is a household name, Warren Buffett’s favorite drink and among his favorite stocks. His holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, has owned the stock for over 35 years. The $1.48 dividend yields 3.2 percent and should be raised again this year.
Procter & Gamble (PG-$90) sells a huge range of consumer products, from baby care to health care to beauty care. The $2.76 dividend yields 3 percent. The Street expects excellent growth this year and in 2019.
Invest $10,000 in each of those stocks, which will produce a 3.3 percent current return. Let’s hope that will give you the protection you want and a handsome yield in this market.
Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at [email protected] To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM
Pump Prices to Edge up After Attack on Iranian General, but Long-Term Effect Unclear
Motorists soon will see the effects of President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a prominent Iranian general. Whether pump prices rise a little or a lot depends on how quickly international tensions intensify.
Florida gas prices climbed an average of 7 cents a gallon in the past three days and could increase an additional 5 cents, AAA – The Auto Club Group said Monday.
The 7-cent increase was coming even before the U.S. air strike Thursday that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. That hike was a result of a rise in the price of crude oil in December.
News of the targeted killing of Soleimani sent crude oil surging nearly $2 per barrel on Friday. An increase of that magnitude typically translates to a 5-cent hike at the pump, AAA said.
The U.S. benchmark for crude oil traded Monday just above $63 per barrel, the highest level since May 2019. The price of oil makes up about half the price of a gallon of gas.
“What happens in the Middle East can have a direct impact on Americans’ daily lives by influencing what they pay at the pump,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Crude prices rise when there’s a threat of war, because of concerns over how the conflict could hamper supply and demand.”
Oil analyst Tom Kloza of energy firm OPIS agreed that pump prices in Florida likely will rise about 5 cents a gallon in the coming days.
“Then I have a hunch that things are going to calm down,” Kloza said Monday. “I don’t think we’re looking at $3 gas.”
The national average pump price Sunday was $2.585, while the Florida average was $2.526, AAA said.
Kloza expects only modest increases in part because of the timing of the attack. January is always a slow month for gas consumption in the United States.
There’s also the reality that sanctions leave Iran unable to export oil. Complicating the calculus is Iraq’s response to the U.S. attack. The drone strike on Soleimani took place in Baghdad, and some Iraqi politicians considered the assault an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.
While there’s no Iranian oil supply to be disrupted by a war, Iraq is an important producer.
Trump keenly watches oil prices and realizes that a price spike might erode his support in this year’s presidential election, Kloza said.
At the same time, Kloza added, “This president has proven to be unpredictable.”
Trump’s response has been typically uneven. Delivering an official statement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Trump’s tone was measured. He said the targeted killing was designed to pre-empt Soleimani’s planned attacks on American diplomats and soldiers.
“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said Friday. “We did not take action to start a war.”
However, over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to threaten attacks on Iranian cultural sites.
“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
##IFRAME_1##Iran has vowed vengeance, but military experts say the nation isn’t powerful enough to wage a direct war against the U.S.
“It’s still far too early to know how much of an impact this conflict will have overall on prices at the pump,” AAA’s Jenkins said.
Stocks Rally Despite Impeachment News
Stocks rose on Thursday as investors looked past the news of President Donald Trump’s impeachment as well as mixed U.S. economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrials advanced 53.85 points to begin trading at 28.293.13
The S&P 500 recovered 4.93 points to 3,196.07
The NASDAQ added 19.39 points to Wednesday’s all-time record, at 8,847.12.
The S&P 500 is up nearly 7% since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September.
Cisco Systems was the best-performing Dow component, rising 1.6%. The consumer staples and real estate sectors led the S&P 500 higher, gaining 0.4% each. Micron Technology shares also contributed to Thursday’s move higher. Conagra shares surged more than 14% and were on pace for their biggest one-day gain since Oct. 16, 1989.
Micron shares climbed 3.5% on the back of strong quarterly results. The chipmaker posted earnings per share and revenue that topped analyst expectations.
On the economic data front, weekly jobless claims fell to 234,000 from 252,000 the week before. However, economists expected claims to fall to 225,000.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business conditions index fell to 0.3 in December from 10.4 in the previous month. Economists expected the index to slip to 8.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump became only the third president to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and will now face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury were lower, raising yields to 1.94% from Wednesday’s 1.93%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices gained seven cents to $61.00 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices moved forward $1.80 at $1,480.50 U.S. an ounce. Copyright © 2019 Baystreet.ca Media Corp. All rights reserved.
Washington State OKs Some of the Nation’s Toughest OT Rules
SEATTLE — Washington state is adopting some of the nation’s most aggressive overtime rules, restoring protections for hundreds of thousands of salaried workers and taking what supporters say is a crucial step toward rebuilding the middle class.
The Department of Labor and Industries finalized the rules Wednesday and will phase them in by 2028. By that time, salaried workers making up to about $83,400 a year will be entitled to time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours per week.
Workers making more than that could also get overtime unless they are certain types of professionals — such as those with higher degrees — or unless they are truly managers or executives, as demonstrated by their ability to and fire, direct other people’s work or make significant business decisions.
Many job categories will be affected, including shift managers at restaurants and retail establishments, office managers, some medical workers and other white-collar staff, officials said.
“We need to make sure the middle class shares in our state’s prosperity,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release. “Overtime protections ensure workers are fairly compensated when they work more than 40 hours in a given week — time that would otherwise be spent with their families and in their communities.”
Employees who are paid hourly have long been entitled to overtime. But salaried workers have generally been entitled to it only if they make less than a certain amount: about $23,660 under federal law, or more where state laws are more generous.
Those thresholds may have worked decades ago, when they meant that nearly two-thirds of salaried workers nationally were covered by overtime protections. But after a recession in the 1970s, lawmakers largely stopped updating them. Washington’s has been stuck at $13,000 since 1976.
As people’s salaries rose with inflation, they found themselves no longer eligible for overtime. Businesses have also been able to convert hourly workers into salaried ones who make just more than the threshold as a way to avoid additional staff or paying overtime.
In other cases, workers have been classified as managers when their actual duties more closely resemble those of hourly workers, officials said.
By some estimates, as few as 7% of salaried workers across the country are now entitled to overtime.
The federal government and several states, including California, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan and Massachusetts, have recently updated or started to update their overtime rules, but none have adopted a target threshold as high as Washington’s, said Paul Sonn, state policy program director with the National Employment Law Project.
The rules adopted by the Trump administration will raise the threshold to cover workers making up to $35,308 a year — a significant cut from the $47,000 limit proposed by the Obama administration.
“The overtime threshold is to the middle class as the minimum wage is to low-wage work,” said Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist whose think-tank , Civic Ventures, advocates for progressive economic policies. “It is the indispensable labour protection for middle class people.”
Business groups in Washington have agreed that the state’s rules needed to be updated, but they criticized the plans as drastic. The Association of Washington Business, warned when the proposed rules came out in June that they would be a shock to many businesses and that they could particularly hurt nonprofits.
The organization warned that many businesses might convert salaried workers to hourly ones, reducing scheduling flexibility.
After hearing extensive public comment, the department added two years to the phase-in period. The threshold will increase incrementally until it reaches 2.5 times the minimum wage — about $83,400 — by 2028. The rules will phase in more slowly for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
The department estimates that by the time they are fully implemented, the new rules will give overtime protections to about 260,000 workers who don’t have them and strengthen overtime protections for about 235,000 others. Affected workers will also become eligible for sick leave and retaliation protections.
At a news conference Wednesday, Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks gave an example of one type of worker who will be protected : a shift manager who makes $40,000 a year but is expected to work 60 hours a week.
Under the new rules, that worker will be paid overtime for the additional hours, or the business will need to additional staff.
“It’s fair, it’s right and it’s long overdue,” Sacks said.
Among those who might be helped is Victor Duran, a co-manager of a sports apparel store south of Seattle. He said he makes about $52,000 a year and doesn’t get overtime, but is required to work at least 45 hours per week — and up to 60 during the holidays.
“We say bye to the family at the beginning of the season and say we’ll see them after Christmas,” Duran said.
Dow Jones Industrial Average Breaks 29,000 For The First Time in History
5 Major Life Changes That Can Impact Taxes
Fitbod: New-Generation Fitness App Based on Data and Science
How To Invest In Drones
The Federal Reserve Is A Ticking Time Bomb
How to Invest in Graphene
Investing4 months ago
How To Invest In Drones
News6 years ago
The Federal Reserve Is A Ticking Time Bomb
News5 years ago
How to Invest in Graphene
News5 years ago
How To Invest Money in Oil and Gas Today
News6 years ago
3 Reasons to Invest in the Russian Stock Market Right Now
Dividend Stocks4 months ago
Mcdonalds the Worst Slump in a Decade
Commodities4 months ago
Latest Update On Oil – Expected to Settle Between $45 and…
Planning5 years ago
Pensions Cut 1.1 Trillion Spending Bill