13 February, 2009

Friday Market Notes

With the majors hovering around the flat line for most of the morning trade, the one thing that's easy to determine is the market's general lack of direction. Stimulus news dissemination could be the main culprit, but more than likely its the sparse rash of headlines that paint a directionless picture.

Making waves this morning are further retail struggles at Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) with a 4th quarter year over year drop of 68% in earnings. Despite the profit fall, the company did meet tempered expectations despite Chairman Mike Jeffries comments about the industry having an end of year that could only be described as "catastrophe". Not giving guidance due to the hazy economics of the day, ANF finds itself well in the green up 11% on the results.

While the talk has been of retail disaster, Microsoft (MSFT) is taking the other approach and jumping into the retail sector. Taking a page or two from Apple's book (AAPL), the company has hired a former Wal-Mart-er to head a retail store operation. No details have yet been given in terms of specifics, but judging from Apple's incredible success with its retail chain, driving customers to purchase an ever growing arsenal of products, Microsoft will undoubtedly try to replicate the experience. A task easier said than done, but one the world's largest software company has to endeavor if only to stem the tide of mind share defectors form its Windows brand.

Well the Car business is still terrible, according to Toyota (TM). Inventory levels continue to be high as sales drop month after month, forcing Toyota to shut production at many of its facilities around the world. This includes plants in America, Canada and Mexico. The cost cutting measures, which also stem some executive pay, are the latest of efforts by a car maker to incite some sustainable increases to profitability. Increases that hopefully result in a spark to lagging share prices as the industry sits in a holding pattern waiting for consumers to reacquire credit and the desire to purchase big ticket items.

Disclosure: Author owns AAPL

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