Monday, April 28, 2008

Rebate Checks

This is from Kiplinger.com, but I am sure it is information that people want....

When to Expect Your Tax Rebate Check

IRS schedules payout dates for $107 billion in economic stimulus checks.

By Kevin McCormally

March 18, 2008

The last two digits of your Social Security number will determine when you’ll get your tax rebate check -- $600 for most taxpayers, $1,200 for couples who file joint returns, plus an extra $300 for every child under age 17 claimed as a dependent on 2007 returns.

The IRS announced yesterday that it hopes to pay the first 34 million rebates in the three weeks beginning May 2, wrapping up stimulus payments owed to most tax filers by early July. Taxpayers who haven’t filed their '07 returns in time to be queued up for the initial payout schedule will get their money later in the summer and into the fall.

Taxpayers who opt to have their 2007 tax refunds electronically deposited in their bank accounts will move to the front of the rebate line. The first payments will be made electronically May 2 to the accounts of refund taxpayers whose Social Security numbers end in 00 to 20.

The next batch, paid May 9, will go to those with Social Security numbers ending in 21 to 75. Then, on May 16, the final electronic payments will be made and, at the same time, the first paper checks will be issued . . . to taxpayers whose Social Security numbers end in 00 to 09. The rest of the checks will be issued according to the schedule outlined in the box below.

If you file a joint return, the timing of your economic stimulus check will be based on the Social Security number of the first spouse listed on the return.

Procrastinators may have to wait

Although you must file a 2007 tax return to get a rebate check (even if you otherwise don’t need to file), filing by the April 15 deadline does not guarantee that you’ll be get your check on the IRS-announced schedule. The agency said its timetable is for taxpayers whose 2007 returns are "filed and processed" by April 15. Since it takes a few days to process electronic returns and a week or more to handle paper forms -- especially those filed en masse as the deadline approaches -- waiting until the last minute to file is likely to delay your chance to put the rebate to work to stimulate the economy.

For the best odds of getting your money as soon as possible, file electronically at least a week before the April 15 deadline and have any refund direct deposited into your bank account. If you file on paper after April 1 and have a relatively low Social Security number, there’s a good chance your return will still be in the processing phase when the payouts begin. Rebates not paid as part of the initial rollout will be made on a weekly basis as the year progresses and 2007 returns are processed.

The IRS said Monday that no rebates will be issued for returns filed after October 15.

IRS timetable for rebate payments

Here’s the government’s plan for making the economic stimulus payments for taxpayers whose 2007 returns are filed and processed by April 15:

DIRECT DEPOSIT PAYMENTS
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are: Your rebate should be sent to your bank account by:
00 - 20 May 2
21 - 75 May 9
76 - 99 May 16
PAPER CHECK
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are: Your check should be in the mail by:
00 - 09 May 16
10 - 18 May 23
19 - 25 May 30
26 - 38 June 6
39 - 51 June 13
52 - 63 June 20
64 - 75 June 27
76 - 87 July 4
88 - 99 July 11

Calculate your tax rebate

IRS announced on March 17 that it has developed a calculator to help taxpayers estimate the size of their rebate. As noted above, most taxpayers who file as single, married filing separately or head of household will get $600, those who file a joint return will get $1,200, plus there’s a $300 bonus for each child under age 17 claimed as a dependent on your 2007 return. Some taxpayers will get less, however. The IRS calculator will estimate your rebate based on your 2007 return.

American Automaker going to make a turnaround?

Fortune.com reports that billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian is taking a larger stake in Ford....

Kerkorian to boost Ford stake to 5.6%

Ford (F) jumped after billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. said it would tender for 20 million Ford shares at $8.50 apiece, a 13% premium to Friday’s close. Kerkorian, who already owns 4.7% of Ford, has a long history of auto investments: He bought into Chrysler’s turnaround in the mid-1990s and later backed the automaker’s sale to Daimler (DAI) in a merger that was unwound last year after years of subpar results. His decision to boost his Ford stake to 5.6% reflects his confidence in the efforts of Ford chief Alan Mulally to put the automaker on firmer footing. Ford swung to a surprising $100 million first-quarter profit last week, as Mulally’s cost-cutting efforts began to bear fruit.

“Tracinda has been following Ford closely since the company released its fourth quarter 2007 results which indicated that Ford’s management was starting to achieve highly meaningful traction in its turnaround efforts,” Tracinda’s press release read. “Last week this was reinforced by Ford’s first quarter 2008 results, achieved despite the difficult U.S. economic environment. Tracinda believes that Ford management under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally will continue to show significant improvements in its results going forward.”

Ford shares rose 10% in early trading Monday, jumping 75 cents to $8.25.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buy N' Hold

A value investor strategy would be to buy a stock with the idea of buying a part of the company and planning on holding on to it for a long time. If the stock market were to shut down for 5 years, you should still be happy holding onto your piece of a business. If you go into an investment with that strategy in mind, you are bound to be better off than trying to buy a stock and flip it for a quick profit, because it can very easily go the opposite way as you had hoped, they you are SOL...

I say this because I tried to make a virtual few bucks by following two stocks. In my head it got the point where I was sick of them going up and going down, and not breaking much more than what I have paid. So it got to the point where I would sell them...and then, two days later for one, and about a week later for the other they jumped in price dramatically....very disappointing. It makes you think, you really need to research your investments and make sure you know how you expect the company to do so that you can handle little bumps in the road when it goes down a few points.

What I would want people to take away from this post is, make sure you research all investments totally so you are confident in what they are going to do. And if you buy a good company, with good management and a good product, you should not have to worry about selling it for a long time, just hold on to it until you have made a satisfactory gain, to the point where if it continues to go up after you sell, you will still be happy with the gain you made.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blockbuster/Circuit City Deal?

Is the blockbuster/circuit city deal a good one? Here is some information that may help you determine weather it is or not, or my spark your interest too look further into the deal....

Circuity City is currently trading under 5 dollars, and their stock has tumbled since mid 2006....


Similarly so, Blockbusters (trading under $3) stock has been consistenetly falling since the begining of 2004. They have tried many different technigues to keep thr store competive over the past years, and they just can not seem to get back to where they were...



This is a piece from the Wall Street Journal dot com discussing the deal...check out the companies further...BBI and CC...
Blockbuster and Circuit City: More Explanation, Please
Posted by Heidi N. Moore
Sometimes, unsolicited offers don’t see the light of day for good reason. Should Blockbuster’s bold offer for big-box electronics retailer Circuit City have been that kind of deal?
Blockbuster is pushing an unsolicited $1 billion offer to take over Circuit City. The troubled video-rental chain actually made the offer in February, but Circuit City management prevented Blockbuster from studying its finances or operations. Now Blockbuster has gone public with the offer, and it has the backing of Carl Icahn, who also is backstopping a rights offering attached to the deal to prove that Blockbuster can get financing for the bid.
Circuit City has publicly opposed the deal, in part because it doubts Blockbuster’s ability to get financing (that statement was issued before the Icahn news). But why stop there? Blockbuster seems to have to prove a lot of things to get this deal done, like, ‘Why does it make sense?’
Overlapping products and services? Blockbuster will have to explain a bit more how its rental business is a good fit–rather than direct competition–for Circuit City’s video sales business. Blockbuster’s video- and DVD-rental business has some awkward gaps with Circuit City’s big-box electronics retail strategy. Circuit City’s prices for electronics and DVDs have fallen because it has larger economies of scale. Blockbuster management is betting that consumers will want to buy DVDs at the same place they rent them; that might be the case, but will consumers be as eager to rent for $5 a night what they can simply buy for $15 a few aisles away? This is especially of concern since Blockbuster has been raising rental prices as part of a recent overhaul of its businesses.
Doing a deal to solve operational problems? Not exactly. In fact, this deal would represent a move in an entirely different direction for Blockbuster. An argument could be made that both companies have serious strategic issues that they need to deal with before even considering a combination. In 2007, Circuity City reported a loss of $321.4 million, and Blockbuster a loss of $74.2 million. Blockbuster’s management has been digging itself out of the hole by slashing costs and raising prices. The company is forecasting first-quarter net income of $30 million–swinging from the year-earlier loss of $49 million. Still, the timing of Blockbuster’s strategy raises questions: Will rising prices play well amid a pullback of consumer spending in the recession some say the U.S. has fallen into? If the strategy ends up yoking together two companies with deeper problems, it will bring to mind the old joke among investment bankers about bad deals: “tying together two stones to see if they float.”
Ease of getting a deal done? Blockbuster’s market cap is $630 million, smaller than Circuit City’s $750 million. The size discrepancy was behind Circuit City’s sniffing about the financing. While Icahn’s offer to backstop a rights offering goes some way to answering that concern, it may not go far enough for Circuit City management and shareholders to open the books and take a chance that this deal will go through.
Is this about real estate? Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes indicated that part of his rationale for the deal would be combining systems, back-office operations like accounting, better deals with vendors and–this should give investors pause — “rationalization of the companies’ real estate.” Hedge-fund maven Eddie Lampert took over Kmart and combined it with Sears partly in what Wall Street called “a real-estate play. But, “although shares of Sears rose tenfold since 2003, the prospects for that line of investing have become dim, and both Kmart and Sears are in need of more direct investment, according to some analysts. Lampert took his hands off the situation this year.
Are activist investors calling the shots, or is management? A deal this counterintuitive has a high bar to jump in terms of justification, and investors will want to know that management has a firm hand on the wheel. In this case, however, activist shareholders seem to be speaking louder than management. Icahn’s support on the Blockbuster side, aligns with the interests of Circuit City investor Mark Wattles, who has been lobbying for a sale of the company and an overhaul of management and the board. Icahn already succeeded in ousting former Blockbuster executive John Antioco.


Friday, April 4, 2008

An interesting article from Market Watch


Calling brave investors



ANNANDALE, Va. (MarketWatch) -- When it comes to investing in individual stocks, contrarian analysis sounds perfectly reasonable -- in theory.
What could be more sensible than Nathan Rothschild's famous line that, "The time to buy is when the blood is running in the streets"? After all, if you wait to buy a stock until the news is all good, then its price will already have been bid way up and have relatively little further upside potential.
But actually behaving like a true contrarian is another thing entirely.

Just take airline stocks, for example. Please!
How many of you self-proclaimed contrarians stepped up to the plate and bought any of the stocks in this industry in recent days? The blood is surely running in the streets of that industry.
You protest? You argue that contrarian analysis, however reasonable it may be in theory, should not be construed as a license for stupidity?
I grant that you certainly appear to have a good argument. Two airlines have declared bankruptcy this week alone. Safety concerns have grounded large chunks of several other airlines' fleets, leading to countless cancellations and flight delays -- and, perhaps even worse from a longer-term point of view, causing many travelers to rethink whether they even want to get into a jet airplane in the first place.
And wouldn't a recession, which very well may be imminent, if we're not in one already, reduce demand for air travel even more? Finally, fuel prices, which are already sky high, don't appear to be headed much lower any time soon.
But contrarians don't disagree that airlines face profound challenges. The contrarian case for airlines stocks is instead based on the notion that their prospects, while bad, aren't nearly as bad as investors are making them out to be.
This, at least, appears to be the argument made earlier this week by George Putnam, editor of the Turnaround Letter, one of the genuine contrarians among the several investment newsletters I monitor. In the April issue of his newsletter, Putnam writes that "the airline stocks look awfully cheap to us right now."
Putnam uses this "it is bad, but not that bad" argument to respond to those who believe that a recession is a reason to avoid airline stocks, for example. "While it is true that travel expenditures are somewhat related to the overall economy, the major airlines are in much better shape this time around compared to past downturns," he writes.
"In the past economic cycles, airlines expanded rapidly during good times, buying new planes, adding routes and letting expenses creep up. Then when the downturn hit, they found themselves with too much debt and a lot of empty planes. Over the last few years, however, the airlines have behaved very differently. They have been disciplined and did not buy planes or add routes, and they focused on keeping costs down. As a result, they should perform much better than they have in the past if we are indeed in an economic downturn."
Which airline stocks in particular does Putnam especially like?
"While we like all the airlines at current prices, we're particularly attracted to Delta Air Lines Inc. Del. (DAL)and Northwest Airlines Corp. (NWA). As the carriers that most recently restructured in Chapter 11, they have among the best cost structures and balance sheets. Also, they could both benefit if their on-again off-again merger actually comes to pass."
To be sure, Putnam in the same issue of his newsletter concedes that there is a fine line between being early in recommending a stock and being just plain wrong. But he nevertheless believes that for those who are particularly brave, airline stocks right now "hold great promise."

Mark Hulbert is the founder of Hulbert Financial Digest in Annandale, Va. He has been tracking the advice of more than 160 financial newsletters since 1980.