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With our investment news briefs, Money Morningprovides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.
Oil Takes a Spill; SEC Expands Madoff Investigation; Sony Could Lose Largest Game Publisher; Nasdaq Outpaces Other Indices; Walgreens Misses Street Estimates; U.S. Car Brands Close Gap with Toyota Quality;
- In spite of tense geopolitical situations in the Middle East, light sweet crude for July delivery yesterday (Monday) fell $2.62, or 3.8%, to settle at $66.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Large and violent protests in Iran over the outcome of its recent election would normally raise concerns about supply disruptions and drive up the price of oil. Instead, the market is looking past this tense backdrop in the world's No. 4 oil producer because of a large supply worldwide, Alaron Trading energy analyst Phil Flynn told CNN Money.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a brokerage firm and several individuals with raising money from investors to feed Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Cohmad Securities Corp., its chairman Maurice Cohn, Chief Operating Officer Marcia Cohn and representative Robert Jaffe have all been charged with securities fraud, CNN Money reports. The Cohns and Jaffe allegedly courted investors for Madoff's grand scheme, which may get Madoff up to 150 years in prison and $170 billion in restitution.
- The chief executive officer and president of the world's largest third-party video game publisher fired a shot over Sony Corp.'s (NYSE: SNE) bow, taking the electronics giant to task over the high price of its PlayStation 3 console and going as far to say his company may pull its support if a price drop doesn't happen soon. Activision Blizzard Inc.'s (Nasdaq: ATVI) Bobby Kotick said his company paid Sony $500 million in royalties and other goods last year, according to the Times Online. "They have to cut the price, because if they don't, the attach rates [the ratio of games purchased to a console] are likely to slow. If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony," Kotick said. "When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console – and the [PlayStation Portable] too." Activision is the company responsible for the some of the sector's largest franchises including "Guitar Hero," "Call of Duty" and the "Tony Hawk" series of skateboarding games. A loss of support from Activision would be a huge blow for Sony's gaming arm, which lost $597 million last year. Sony's PlayStation 3 is currently third in a three-horse video game race behind Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s (ADR OTC: NTDOY) Wii and Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360.
- In a sign that may show investors have let their guard down, technology stocks have significantly outperformed the broader market, according to MarketWatch.com. Since its March low, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index is up more than 40% and nearly 13% for the year. "Technology tends to be a leader in the early stages of an economic turn.," said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. "That's what we look for as confirmation of a sustainable rally — money rotating into a sector that historically is seen as consumer- and business-sensitive, and requiring more leverage in terms of borrowed money, because it is more sensitive to the economy." Still, Nasdaq's notorious volatility was on display yesterday (Monday), as it fell 3.35%, more than both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.
- Restructuring costs and merchandise markdowns contributed to Walgreen Co.'s (NYSE: WAG) declining profit, which fell by 8.7% in the quarter ended May 31. The drugstore chain reported a net income of $522 million, or 53 cents per share on $16.2 billion in revenue. That compares to a net income of $572 million, or 58 cents per share on revenues of $15 billion in the same period last year. Wall Street was expecting Walgreens to earn 56 cents per share. The company's shares closed at $29.64 yesterday (Monday), down 5.7%.
- Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and General Motors' (OTC: GMGMQ) Chevrolet division are close to eliminating a long-criticized quality gap with Toyota Motor Corp. (ADR NYSE: TM), according a closely watched J.D. Power and Associates survey. The top three spots in the survey went to luxury brands, while Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota were in what amounted to a statistical dead heat further down in the rankings, Reuters reported. "Have the leading domestic nameplates caught up with Toyota? The answer is almost," Dave Sargent, vice president for auto research at J.D. Power said. Toyota's Lexus brand took the top spot, while Porsche and GM's Cadillac were Nos. 2 and 3 respectively.