March 2012 - Page 3 of 12 - Money Morning - Only the News You Can Profit From
How to Earn a 9.25% Gain in 30 days While Waiting for Apple's
(Nasdaq: AAPL) Dividend
Although it's been one of the market's darlings for a decade now, dividend-oriented investors have long shunned computer giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) because, well … it didn't pay one.
That, coupled with AAPL's historically high share price, has always kept me from buying Apple stock – but, as a trader, it hasn't kept me from generating income with Apple options.
Last week, the cash-rich company finally took a step toward rewarding loyal shareholders by declaring a dividend – a quarterly payout of $2.65 a share, beginning with the fiscal fourth quarter, which runs from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2012.
Assuming the payouts continue, which they almost certainly will, that means Apple's annual dividend in fiscal 2013 will be $10.60 a share, which sounds fairly rich – except for one thing…
At its closing price of $599.34 last Thursday, Apple remains one of the market's highest-priced stocks, meaning the new annual dividend of $10.60 will equate to a yield of only 1.76%.
That's decent, but it's hardly near the top of the income-stock ranks. Plus, it'll be well over a year before you can collect the full dividend.
Fortunately, by using options, you can easily generate some significant income while waiting for Apple's new dividend to kick in – and multiply your yield at the same time.
Let me explain…
Stock Market Today: Housing Data Makes KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Homebuilder
Stocks a "Hold"
This week's housing market data ended with lower new home sales than expected, triggering a slip for KB Home (NYSE: KBH) and other homebuilder stocks in the stock market today (Friday).
Shares of builder KB Home tumbled more than 13% in early morning trading. Also pushing investors away from the stock was the company earnings report that missed analyst expectations.
For the quarter ended Feb. 29, KB Home's net loss was $45.8 million, or 59 cents a share, down from a $114.5 million loss, or $1.49 a share, a year earlier. Analysts expected a loss of 23 cents a share, according to Bloomberg News.
Signs of a housing market bottom have helped push KBH up 67% this year. As of Thursday's close it was one of the top performers in the S&P 500 Index year-to-date.
But new home orders slipped last quarter – and the company is saddled with debt. Net orders declined 8.1% to 1,197 homes. The cancellation rate rose to 36% from 29% a year earlier.
Its high debt level has prevented KBH from regaining profitability.
How to Profit on the Natural Gas Surplus
The recent mild winter and the unparalleled potential in new shale gas production have combined to result in a depressed pricing market for natural gas.
The rise in demand for everything from electricity to petrochemical feeder stock, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, and even usage in vehicle fuels, will start driving that price up over the next two years.
You already know that, of course.
We've talked about it many times before.
But now there's something else on the horizon that is likely to provide a boost to investor prospects even sooner.
Utilities, one of the main beneficiaries of the gas boom, are moving to capitalize on the accelerating transition in power generation.
And in the process, two important trends are emerging that will be of interest to retail investors.
First, the low current prices and the prospect of rapid increases in extraction rates, if the market warrants, are allowing electricity managers the opportunity to plan for multi-year cost projections.
That, in turn, is propelling the intensified replacement of aging capacity with new gas-fueled plants.
As Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (NYSE: PCG) CEO Tony Earley noted this week, infrastructure investment becomes a priority when projected fuel prices are low. The system has to be upgraded and replaced in any event, as large segments of it reach the point of "retirement."
Earley also has advanced the idea that the power industry needs to speak with one voice in its dealings with regulators and policy makers.
This need for solidarity has been reflected in comments from other leaders in the power industry as well.
As policymakers increase capital expenditure spending in infrastructure replacement and expansion, we are also likely to see a renewed interest in developing a consensus on where the next "generation of generators" is going to be moving.
And one of the drivers coming onto the scene moves right into familiar – and profitable -territory, at least for us.
- Warm Temps Boost Economy?
The Irony of China's Search for Energy
Kent was in Huntington Beach, Calif., earlier this week to present the keynote address on "The Future of U.S. Energy Policy" at the CoBank Annual Meetings.
I hope he didn't have to rent a car. If so, he's probably still suffering from sticker shock.
The average price of regular gasoline in the Golden State is around $4.32 – a record high for this time of year.
He probably would have been better off cruising down to Mexico to refill his tank instead.
Thanks to government regulations to artificially suppress the price, American drivers can find gasoline in Mexico for up to $1.50 a gallon cheaper than in the U.S.
But drivers also have to ignore U.S. State Department travel warnings. A willingness to cross the border anyway shows just how important inexpensive fuel is to drivers living on a budget.
It all comes back to the subject that Kent and I have written on with a lot of passion in the last few months.
The U.S. has lacked a cohesive energy policy for the last four decades, with every President since Nixon ignoring his own calls for energy independence and an effective strategy moving forward.
And as the global economy becomes more competitive, access to less expensive sources of oil wanes, and political tensions drive greater uncertainty, there's new irony to our lack of a real energy policy.
And it's leading to new competition for fuels in our own back yard.
2012 Financial Crisis: Wall Street's Latest Scheme Uses Your Bank Account to Create the Next Crash
In 2008, reckless credit default swaps nearly obliterated the global economy. Now comes the next crisis – rehypothecated assets.
It's a complicated, fancy term in the global banking complex. Yet it's one you need to know.
And if you understand it, you will get the scope of the risks we currently face – and it's way bigger than just Greece.
So follow with me on this one. I guarantee that you'll be outraged and amazed – and better educated. You'll also be in a better position to protect your assets at the end of this article, where I'll give you three important action steps to take. So follow along…
The Natural Gas Act: Another Washington Boondoggle
With gasoline fast approaching $4 a gallon and heading toward $5 this summer, it's no surprise that politicians are panicking.
In Washington D.C., everything is an emergency. Legislation is always the antidote.
So now politicians are pushing the Natural Gas Act as a solution to high gas prices, rather than allowing the market to work.
Of course, none of them want to take the time to understand the true reasons why gas is going to $5 a gallon.
That would require a basic understanding of business or economics, something few in Congress seem to have.
Instead, what you can expect is the typical Washington response-a task force to investigate speculation in the oil futures markets.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced one last week without recognizing the futures markets actually improve liquidity and oil production certainty.
It's how Washington works. The Natural Gas Act is just more of the same.
The Housing Market's Biggest Hurdle
Forget about optimistic headlines on the housing market.
Whether it's record low mortgage rates, improvement in the Case-Shiller Index, higher housing starts, or any other report, the headlines don't tell the whole story – and the story matters.
The real story is that the housing bubble was inflated by cheap and abundant mortgage financing and a sustainable recovery is only possible if that story has a second chapter.
But, that's not happening.
In fact, structural changes in the mortgage industry are about to make buying a home loan a lot tougher than it has been in the last quarter century.
Let's start with the premise that no matter how cheap a house is, and no matter how low interest rates go, nobody is buying anything if they can't qualify for a mortgage.
Or, if lenders decide to charge too high a rate because they're either not constrained by competition or they can't offload the mortgages they underwrite, how can there be a housing recovery?
The Changing Landscape in Mortgage Finance
Let's look at what's happening in terms of buyer qualification standards, competition in the mortgage industry, and lenders' ability to package and offload mortgages.
Lenders have been consistently raising standards for borrowers. Long gone are the days of the famously named NINJA loans, as in: no-income, no-job, no-assets, no-problem.
The primary reason standards have risen is that buyers of securitized loans crammed with mortgages have "putback" rights that force mortgage lenders to buy them back.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who ultimately bought hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities, have been forcing lenders to buy-back billions of dollars of non-performing mortgages.
In 2011, Fannie and Freddie demanded $33 billion in mortgages be bought back. That was a 10% increase over what they putback to lenders in 2010.
Basically, the standards by which lenders were supposed to judge borrowers were overlooked or fraudulently misrepresented. Other factors, like faulty appraisals, are also a factor in accessing the covenants that lenders have to abide by when they sell mortgages.
I'll come back to higher borrower standards in a moment, but the standards issue flows immediately into what's happening on the competitive landscape today.
Big banks not only got heavily into the mortgage origination business during the boom, they also bought mortgages that were already underwritten from "correspondent" lenders.
Correspondent lenders have contractual relationships with bankers that allow them to sell the mortgages they make to the banks, thus freeing up correspondents' invested capital to underwrite more loans.
Correspondent lenders are not depository institutions.
They are usually private companies that have their own capital to make loans or borrow money through what's called a warehouse line of credit.
Here's how it works.