Disney's Earnings Magic, Groupon's Deal-Fatigue Disappointment, and Your Wall Street Week in Review

The four things you need to know on May 10.

May 10, 2014 at 7:00PM
Start getting pumped for mother's day -- because nothing gets investors more excited for checking out what moved the market all week than a big pancake-filled brunch honoring Mom.

1. Stock winner of the week
Even if they rubbed Aladdin's lamp, investors couldn't have wished for better earnings news than they got from The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) last week -- the worldwide entertainment legend reported $11.65 billion in revenue for the magical first quarter of 2014, notably beating the $11.25 billion Wall Street was projecting.

So what was driving all the fun over in the Magic Kingdom during the first three months of 2014? For Disney, it was all about the movie Frozen. In the earnings report, Disney execs noted that the holiday feature became the highest-earning animated movie in history, with an entertaining $1 billion in total ticket sales globally. Plus, around 90% of the top 10 Disney toys sold recently have been related to the movie. Not too shabby, Walt.

But one movie isn't the reason Disney stock is up over 7% so far this year. In 2013, Disney's theme parks set records and Mickey is starting to put his money where the crowds are. As part of the earnings report, Disney announced a $800 million investment in Shanghai Disney and a fresh new roller coaster in Disney World. Sign us up.

2. Stock loser of the week
While you were busy checking out Gilt. for some fun luxury product deals, the everyman's daily deal site Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) reported some unimpressive losses in the first three months of 2014 at $38 million, a big jump from the $4 million loss in 2013. And it's all from the company stuffing money into its marketing campaigns, trying to get back customers.
Where did the customers go? You tell us -- tired of getting all those Groupon daily deal emails? So is everyone else who was a customer. So the execs over at Groupon are making a push now for you to use the Groupon App when you're looking for last minute cheap theater tickets. The question to shareholders is whether Groupon can make this transition through its marketing efforts.

That's not the only change going on at Groupon. The company is also going to be posting its deals on Amazon, resulting in occasional free shipping to your home. Plus, the comapny will be shipping more goods from its Kentucky-based distribution center. But overall, keep in mind that investors are getting more concerned about the evolving business model, and sent the stock down over 20% on the day of its earnings report.

3. Corporate awkwardness at Target, Twitter, and Barclays
Enjoying the CEO private plane and/or private bathroom is fun -- but being CEO of one of these firms wasn't this past week. Target (NYSE:TGT) fired CEO Gregg Steinhafel after its holiday season 40-million customer credit card security breach that dropped the company's earnings by 45% (plus Target's failed campaign to enter Canada). Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) stock lost its chirp, plummeting after initial investors who owned 480 million "lockup" shares were allowed to legally sell them in the public market for the first time. And Britain-based Barclays (NYSE:BCS) announced that it's axing 19,000 jobs, including 7,000 in New York City and London as it scales down its investment bank.

4. Janet Yellen hangs out with Congress
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen took advantage of some spring-ish weather and walked over to Congress to testify on the state of the economy to the Joint Economic Committee. She's no weatherwoman, but admitted that this past winter definitely made the U.S. economy "pause" in the first quarter -- but she expects "a somewhat faster pace" of growth in the second quarter. Investors, though, were more excited about that fact that she will maintain the central bank's "quantitative easing" stimulus policies, even though the Fed might scale back their intensity a bit.
MarketSnacks this week:
  • Monday: The Treasury's budget; first-quarter earnings reports: Cosi, Foxconn
  • Tuesday: April retail sales; earnings reports: Airbus, Fossil
  • Wednesday: NAHB Small Biz Index; earnings reports: Jack in the Box, Kate Spade, SeaWorld
  • Thursday: Empire State Manufacturing Index; earnings reports: J.C. Penney, Nordstrom
  • Friday: Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Poll

MarketSnacks Fact of the Day: Just two years after their athletic careers end, 78% of former NFL players are bankrupt or nearly bankrupt.

As originally published on MarketSnacks.com

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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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