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Kerri Shannon

Four Things to Know About Super Tuesday 2012

Usually by the time voters reach Super Tuesday, the party has a clear leading candidate. This year, however, could bring a little GOP shake-up.

There are ten states holding a primary election or caucus on Super Tuesday2012. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is slated to take about four of them, but has faced increasing competition from previous underdog former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Santorum surprised the Romney camp Feb. 7 when he swept three states – Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado.

While Romney has won the most elections so far, there is still a large number of Republicans he has failed to win over. Some GOP members think he's too liberal to represent the party in Washington.

With some surprise wins for Santorum already this year, tomorrow's Super Tuesday battle could further rattle Mitt Romney's lead.

As we enter one of the most closely watched days in Election 2012, here's what you need to know.

Super Tuesday 2012

Which states are key? There are 437 delegates in the Super Tuesday states, more than double the amount that already voted. Only 422 technically are up for grabs tomorrow, since the rest are superdelegates and unbound to the results. That's still more than one-third of the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch a nomination.

Here's how they break down per Super Tuesday state:

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Can General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) Shake Off Trouble from Europe?

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) reported today (Thursday) its biggest annual profit ever for 2011, but weakness from Europe could dull the share-price rally.

Net income for the 2011 fiscal year hit $7.6 billion, 62% higher than the $4.7 billion GM earned a year ago and more than the previous record of $6.7 billion in 1997. Revenue increased 11% to $150.3 billion.

Net income for the quarter hit $472 million, or 28 cents a share, down from $510 million, or 31 cents a share, a year ago.

North America was GM's biggest income driver, accounting for $7.2 billion of the year's profit. GM suffered a $747 million loss in Europe, where consumer spending is struggling.

"We clearly have work to do in Europe," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters. "We have work to do in the South America business. Frankly, we have work to do all around the company in terms of cost opportunity."

Investors remain wary over how successful GM will be at maintaining its profit rise as long as Europe remains weak – and looks increasingly weaker.

"Just because things were looking OK at the end of last year doesn't mean that they will continue to look OK," Richard Cookson, chief investment officer of Citi Private Bank, told MSNBC. "Our best guess is that conditions will continue to deteriorate. This is going to be unpleasant, to put it mildly."

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Tech Stocks: NVIDIA Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) Earnings Must Show Move to Mobile

NVIDIA Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) will join tech stocks reporting earnings this week when it releases fourth-quarter results after the bell today (Wednesday) – and attempts to attract investors with a plan to profit from mobile computing growth.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast quarterly earnings of 19 cents per share on $950.5 million in revenue.

The graphics chipmaker already cut its revenue outlook in January from $1.066 billion to $950 million. It said flooding in Thailand had slowed the global hard-drive market, lowering PC shipments.

NVIDIA invented the graphics processing unit (GPU) in 1999, and its graphics cards are used in many desktop computers and notebooks. Graphics card sales account for 30% of the company's revenue.

But the industry is changing in a way that will render NVIDIA'S core business obsolete. Competitors are releasing new processors more advanced than NVIDIA's.

What investors should look for in Wednesday's report are NVIDIA's plans to expand beyond its PC focus into the next era of computing, and if those plans can stand up to stiff competition.

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Today's Earnings Preview: Can Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA) Loosen its Facebook Ties?

Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA) will report earnings for the first time today (Tuesday) since going public, and investors want to see if Zynga has a future plan for profits that isn't tightly pinned to Facebook Inc.

Zynga is the largest social gamer in the world, behind FarmVille, CityVille, Mafia Wars, and Words with Friends. It has 230 million active monthly users, but growth slowed in the end of 2011 because of few new hit games released.

Zynga debuted its $1 billion IPO in December. It listed its relationship with Facebook under risks associated with the business in its IPO filing.

Wall Street expects the Zynga earnings report to show profit of 3 cents per share on revenue of $301.1 million for the fiscal fourth quarter. That would be a 54% revenue gain from the last quarter of 2010.

Zynga is profitable, unlike some of its social media-related counterparts, but the question is, can it build a company that's not so reliant on Facebook?

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How This Indian Wedding Tradition Drives Global Gold Demand

An Indian wedding tradition dating back thousands of years is more than a simple cultural practice – it has become one of the biggest drivers of global gold demand.

In a Feb. 12 CBS News' "60 Minutes" report, correspondent Bryon Pitts took a look at how the Indian wedding tradition of draping the bride in gold jewels has propelled India to be the biggest source of global gold demand. India is now No. 1 in gold consumption of jewelry as well as physical bars and coins.

India accounts for about 32% of the global gold market with half of the gold Indians buy spent on jewelry for the 10 million weddings held there each year.

As a result, gold prices typically rise ahead of wedding season as families prepare.

"The demand for gold out of India is fundamental for the health of the industry," Ajay Mitra of the World Gold Council told Pitts. "If India sneezes, the gold industry will catch a cold."

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Congress Insider Trading: Rep. Spencer Bachus, You're Up

As Washington works on finalizing a Congress insider trading ban, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-AL, could be the first member to be penalized for profiting from power.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Bachus, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, for possibly violating insider trading laws, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Activity disclosed on Bachus' annual financial disclosure forms triggered the investigation, which started late last year.

This is the first insider trading case involving a member of Congress. It was announced days after the House approved the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which basically says that members of Congress must obey insider trading laws.

The House voted 417-2 to approve the bill; the Senate approved it last week in a 96-3 vote. It took more than two months to get the bill through both houses. The House amended the Senate bill, meaning the process still has to go through another step: a conference to produce a common version.

Bachus issued a statement Thursday.

"The Office of Congressional Ethics has requested information and I welcome this opportunity to present the facts and set the record straight," Bachus said in a statement released by his spokesman, Tim Johnson.

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Mortgage Settlement Just the Start of Trouble for Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Friends

The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders, including Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC), finally reached a $25 billion mortgage settlement to help homeowners – but the banks still face years of legal battles and billions of dollars in costs.

The provisions to the mortgage settlement include:

  • $5 billion total in cash penalties, payable to borrowers, states, and the federal government.
  • $20 billion in additional aid, through reducing homeowners' loan balances, and refinancing for underwater homeowners who are current on their loans.

Bank of America will pay an additional $1 billion to settle claims that it inflated appraisal prices from 2003-2009.

The multi-billion dollar mortgage settlement ends state and federal investigations into improper foreclosure procedures (like robo-signing), but banks can still get hit with criminal enforcement actions due to lending practices and mortgage-related securities.

"It's a big check with narrow immunity," Paul Miller, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets and a former Federal Reserve examiner, told Bloomberg News. "You get the state attorneys general off your back, but you're not getting immunity from securitizations, which could come with their own steep cost down the road."

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Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) Earnings Report Sends Investors Bailing on the Stock

Today's (Wednesday's) Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) earnings report – the first since the company went public in November 2011 – failed to show investors why they should believe in the social media-related stock.

Groupon reported a net loss before adjustments of $42.7 million, or 8 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $378.6 million, or $1.08 a share, for the same period last year. Revenue rose 194% to $506.5 million.

Wall Street expected earnings per share of 3 cents on $475 million in sales. With profit missing expectations and disappointing investors, shares fell 12% in after-hours trading.

The lower-than-expected earnings fueled the bearish outlook on Groupon.

"True, Groupon has plenty of cash in the bank and no debt, but you can find much better tech companies out there with stronger cash flow and solid earnings," Money Morning Defense and Technology Specialist Michael Robinson said last month. "For 2012, GRPN is a tech stock to avoid."

Avoid Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN)

Groupon has slipped about 7% since its first trading day Nov. 11 to Wednesday's closing price of $24.58. Wall Street has a one-year price target of $25.06 – a mere 2% gain from Wednesday's close.

Groupon stock, along with last year's other Internet IPOs LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD), Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P), and Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA), got a pop from recent investor excitement over the Facebook IPO. Groupon was up 7% Feb. 2, the day after Facebook made its IPO filing. LinkedIn rose 6%, Pandora 3%, and Zynga 17%.

Regardless of a recent share price spikes, the Internet IPOs of last year still face the growth and profitability obstacles that turned investors off before.

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The New Money Market Fund Rules You Could Face

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plans to unveil new money market fund rules that could drastically change the industry – even end it, if investment companies' claims are true. The SEC is designing new rules to stabilize money market funds. The investments should be secure and easily accessible, but the SEC says a […]

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Cash for Keys: Avoid Foreclosure, Pay the Bank Less Than What You Owe… and Get $30,000

U.S. banks have a deal for underwater homeowners: Avoid foreclosure by selling your house for less than what you owe… and they'll pay you $30,000 or more to close the deal. It's called Cash for Keys, and it's working. Banks typically hate short sales because they lose money. The alternative, however, is even more costly […]

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